Wednesday, 1 December 2010

3D Graphics assignment year Year 1 - Sketch Up

This was our introduction to 3D. Starting with the basics, such as a square becoming a cube or a cuboid etc.
For my assignment I produced a study of my school and various objects in the objects. This focussed on the structure of all the items, the textures, the placement and perspective. Here is an image of the 3D model, I must get round to creating a navigation tool, or recording a 'walk through'.

Final Marks: 80 = First

Friday, 26 November 2010

Christmas Markets in Manchester

OK, I know it is still November, but working in Manchester for 6 years made Christmas come early through the magic of the European Christmas Markets.
The markets opened on the 18th November this year and will be around until the 22nd December (21st for the arts & crafts) The markets are squares filled with log cabins, festive lights, quaint stalls with holiday fayre. The smells are just fabulous, mouth watering pork, würst, schnitzel, raclette, Glühwein, pancakes to name but a few.

Opening times:

Manchester World Christmas Market Brazennose Street 18th Nov to 22nd Dec 10am - 7.30pm (8pm in Dec)
Manchester European Christmas Markets Albert Square 18th Nov to 22nd Dec 10am -
Manchester German Christmas Market St Ann's Square 18th Nov to 21st Dec 10am - 8pm
Manchester Christmas Arts & Crafts Market Exchange Street 18th Nov to 21st Dec 10am - 7.30pm (8pm in Dec)
For full details see the Manchester Markets website

We are off there tonight, no longer working in Manchester I am hankering for a bit of the Bavarian action, and as if we need an excuse, it is a year since Rob proposed so I will certainly celebrating (hopefully he will to!)

Thursday night at IKEA - a free dinner

Rob and I spent the evening at Ikea last night. Following the receipt of many a generous gift of Ikea vouchers from our wedding guests and absentees, we are overhauling our home.  So a massive thank you goes out to all those people.

£1114 of vouchers later, we are the new owners of a set of PAX/ Malm wardrobes, a dining room suite, bookshelf, mirror and a giant red julebukk with two little babies. (piccies to come)
I'll be back next weekend to purchase Christmas decorations and crockery.
While we were there, we dined at the restaurant, Rob had meatballs, I the Gravadlax (currently on the attack phase of the Dukan Diet so I am on protein only). The meal came to £10.05, and we were presented with a voucher for the same amount, which we can spend in store as of the 6th of December. Well worth dropping in for!

Back to the gift vouchers, we have some fabulous personalised stationary from printing.com in Helmshore, and are finally getting through all of our thank you letters... we are only 3.5 months down the line, must get a wriggle on!

Monday, 22 November 2010

Take That - Progress

I have to squeal about how bloomin' brilliant Take That's new album is.  OK, I am a fan, but this is truly their best work yet, Stuart Price (Les Rhythmas Digitales) produced the album and has weaved his synth pop magic through it.

My favourite tracks are the anthemic and powerful SOS and KIDZ.

So far I have listened to the album 9 times, thrice on repeat at my sister Lucy's house, her 9 year old daughter was rather upset that all the 'Mums' love Take That, declaring 'they are not a boy band, they are a mum's band' quite right too, we saw them first!

I had heard friend's views on the album, some were not keen on the new direction, others miffed that Mark was singing so much.  Me, I love it, Mark has a distinct voice that really lends a unique personal quality to the songs, you truly believe he feels and means the message.  As for the new sound, a bit of Adam and the Ants, meets Scissor Sisters, with a futuristic vibe.... Progress indeed.

Cannot wait 'til June 2011, I am watching the boys live in concert at Manchester City Stadium!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Sweeties for Christmas, Media City Uk & Terry Wogan

Congratulations to my friend from Uni and his wife who have recently launched a new business,  In the face of the economic 'blip', it is encouraging to see new ventures, especially when it is such a sweet tasting enterprise!

The online store stocks a variety of sweets, chocolates and toffees, to be delivered to your chosen destination.  This, I must confess, is rather dangerous for me as I am struggling to find motivation to stick to weight watchers, and chocolatey goodies are just distracting me.  My childhood favourites, the Icy Chocolate Cups are there, the sweet melt in the mouth goodies in foil cups, as well as white chocolate fish & chips, and the chocolate tool kits!


Other new ventures are a partnership with Peel Media and SIS who have signed a 10 year agreement to provide the production and technical services to the BBC at Media City UK in Salford.  As a former employee of 3sixtymedia (the production/technical team at The Manchester Studios/Granada TV/ITV), I had been following the progress of the site, with anticipation, trepidation and a great deal of hope, that 3sixty would play a part in the service provision.  I had dreams of us all moving over there, into plush offices, to run the brand spanking new studios, with all our expert production crew, resources department, Coronation Street and all.

Since leaving 3sixty I have seen many of my colleagues be made redundant, a sign of the times, it is not just factories or banks that are affected by the recession.  The BBC has a new recruitment process, whereby the applicant submits all their details.  Once job positions are opened, those in the system will automatically shortlisted, for only the roles for which they are deemed most suitable.

In that most of my friends and family are employed by the creative media industry, most of them have been getting their profiles submitted.

I'll admit I have dropped off the radar since moving from television into teaching, so I am not sure what this new partnership with Peel and SIS means for the future of 3sixty, or indeed ITV, and it's employees at the historic site on Quay Street in Manchester.  The recent removal of the iconic Granada TV sign, was perhaps symbolic of other changes.

The talent at 3sixty and Granada are the true assets of the company, so I am sure that regardless, they will continue to be successful in their career's, be it as a 3sixty employee, or as freelance over at Media City.  I was so very proud to work at Granada, so would be gutted should it not flourish from the BBC's move up North.

That being said, more than anything, I hope that my friends, family and former colleagues benefit, rather than suffer any hardships, in the light of this news.. after all there are only so many superstars needed, and they are all stellar!


And finally, on a lighter note, if not bizarre revelation.  I had a dream about Terry Wogan the other night, and now am unable to watch the Nintendo DS advert, without feeling a wee bit uncomfortable and a bit ashamed, it's like fancying your mates Dad.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

BBC Blast comes to Clitheroe

The BBC Blast team are in Clitheroe.  Blast is a place for teenagers to be creative, both online and in workshops around the UK. 

If you are into film, TV, dance, fashion, photography, theatre or radio, and you are in the Ribble Valley/ Lancashire area, you can meet the Blast team and get involved with the projects ranging from animation to sports journalism.

Last week the team visited Bowland High School, where pupils were able to learn new skills including video editing and facial morphing!

This week Blast is at the North Street Car Park and The Grand (click here for site).  The workshops are open to teenagers aged 13-19.

For details of the workshops available in Clitheroe, and the booking form please visit the Blast website (click here for site) 

Monday, 15 November 2010

Highly Visual

Been listening to Sara Cox's feature on the Scott Mills Radio 1 show, about high viz' jacket, o rather the position of authority automatically earned by a mere mortal, once said jacket is donned.

This reminded me of the trailer, Highly Visual, that we worked on last year.

Pictured above, Andrew 'Barney'McHugh, Rob Hallam, Gerry McLaughlin and the crew from Bigtank.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Keeping busy

Gracious, I have been lapse on the old blogging of late!  I don't seem to have sat down long enough to check my emails, let alone write any new posts.  I have a feeling the forthcoming ones with be brief!

So news, I have had two weddings, returned to Uni and school for my second year, completed my first 3D assignment and turned the house upside down for decorating!

Here is a snapshot of one of the weddings, Anthony & Karen Meynell, more photos and wedding blog to come soon.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Walking with Ghosts!

I met Ribble Valley's 'Ghost Hunter' Simon Entwistle last week. booked me to photograph Simon, they are promoting a show at The, Lancaster, Dec 14th.

The shoot was at St Mary's church in Clitheroe, Weds evening, in the rain with fast fading light, but am happy with the outcome.

The show, 'an audience with..' offers an opportunity for people to ask questions, hear and share ghost stories and experiences.  And after meeting Simon, what a gentleman, I can imagine the evening will be entertaining and enlightening.

Watch this space for more news from

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Nat Bullen's Photos of our wedding

Nat is a genius, he is a lighting cameraman and Director of Photography so of course his photographs are beautiful.  He recently posted us a disc with some his guest snaps of our big day.  Here are some of my favourites.

Big congratulations to Nat and his wife Rachel on the birth of their second child, Sienna Rose!

Big thanks for the pics Nat and big loves to you all x

All photos on this post courtesy of and copyright Nat Bullen

Monday, 20 September 2010

Our Rings, something old, something new

My engagement ring was my Grandma Doris'.  She was 19 when my Grandpa proposed, three diamond in platinum setting and shoulders, with gold ring, as was popular in those days.  I inherited at 16, but knowing how clumsy I was, my Mum did not let me have it until I was 21.  I have worn it and treasured it everyday since.
I had always known that I wanted a contemporary wedding band, and that the cut of grandma's ring would not sit well with such a style.  I had long hoped that should I ever get engaged, I be able to use Grandma's ring for the engagement, and get something different for my wedding band.

Rob was very happy with this arrangement, he also wanted to incorporate a family heirloom into the wedding.  Rob's Mum's wedding ring, although to small, is very good quality good, and very heavy.  Our friend's sister is a jeweller and she was able to insert a piece so that it would fit on Rob's huge finger, and Rhodium plate it.

We found my ring at Green & Benz.  It is made of palladium and is the perfect balance of sturdy, industrial looking, with a hint of delicate elegance with the inlaid tiny eternity style diamonds set around the ring.
Palladium is of the Platinum family and as of Jan 2010 is a registered precious metal which must be hallmarked.  At the time of purchase the palladium was approx 1/3 of the cost of platinum, which was a bonus as we saved money by chosing my favourite design, that was not actually available in platinum!  It is a super alternative if you prefer silver coloured jewellery.  It is stronger than silver and will not require coating, unlike white gold, as this is the natural colour of the metal, which can be brushed or polished as other metals.
I love my rings, and it was so wonderful to include Grandma and Christine in the wedding even though they could not be there with us.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Shoes - be prepared for all weathers, it's the Girl Scout in me!

When you spend not a great deal on a pair of shoes, surely you can buy several pairs?
I chose my wellington boots before my bridal shoes.  I knew I wanted a pair of Hunters, I have done since I was a girl, but couldn't justify the price tag for mucking about on the farm or general mess.  Now I had an excuse 'they are bridal wellies!'

I had seen a pair of Iris coloured boots on a bride in a magazine and her picture was pasted into my scrapbook.  I looked for online suppliers, have a fabulous range at competitive prices and the delivery was very prompt. 

The next pair I found were my bridal shoes.  Think LouBou satin pump meets David Bowie et voila! You have my ridiculous, comical bridal shoes.  Ivory satin peep toe with a gold glitter encrusted five inch heel and platform.  Practical they are not, tasteful, certainly not, but they made me smile.  They made me laugh out loud in the shop, the Office outlet shop might I add.  Yes these puppies were slashed to a bargain £30!  I knew I would only be able to wear them for the first 10 minutes of the day, if that, so after a call to my good friend and style guru Kate, I bought them.

Now expecting rain, I was covered with the wellies, but what if we were do get sunshine, what would my immaculate pedicured feet want to wear, if anything?  What do I normally wear when I can’t decide to venture barefoot or not? Flip Flops!

My friend Danny owns a clothing store SoleFood, and they stock Ipanema footwear, he brought a selection for me to try.  I bought the Ivory and Gold pair (pictured) which complimented my theme perfectly, and he gave me a black pair, and a white and navy pair as a resent for the honeymoon, thanks Danny!

So I had a shoe for every eventuality.  I somehow managed to make it up the field in the bridal shoes, greatly assisted by my Daddy’s steadying arm, my Maids of Honours carrying my train, and a whole heap of adrenaline.  By the time I made it to Rob’s side, my knees buckled as my whole body shook with joy, fear and everything else that goes with it on the day, so he took over the job of holding me upright.  As we said our vows the heavens opened and Kate whipped off my shoes and helped me into the wellies for the walk down to the shelter of the bar in the barns.

After an hour the rain ceased and did not make an appearance for the rest of the day, so out came to third and last pair of shoes for the day, my gorgeous flip flops.  Let it never be said that I am not prepared, and never let a girl be restricted to one pair of shoes!

Wednesday, 15 September 2010


I am off sick so my creative juices are not flowing freely, I drafted up the written content of this blog but my brain is not making too much sense, so until I can get it just right i'll set this as a preview!

Here are the decorations as they are being created, the day before the big day.  A variety of established potted herbs, trees and shrubs, flags, chinese lanterns, fairy lights and several miles of bunting, homemade and hung by various members of my family.

Here are a few snaps of the bouquets taken by my friend Sarah on the day of the wedding.  These are Hydrangea, cow parsley and lemon thyme, handpicked from my parent's garden and hand-tied by my Mum's friend Margaret and my super hero Aunty Mary.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Hair comes the bride

For those who have not got a wedding planner the endless planning and labouring at the venue, whilst thoroughly enjoyable in itself, can leave a bride a little detached from the whole princess experience.

As a do it yourself bride, I myself had been feeling ‘un-bridelike’ and with three weeks to go I was worrying a little that perhaps I should be getting more excited, after all I had dreamt of being a bride since I was six.  I had imagined that I would spend months growing my hair and hammering the gym, spend weeks of pampering, moisturising my skin, getting early nights, avoiding any opportunity where I might risk breaking a fingernail or breaking a limb.  Yet here was I still labouring  on the farm moving stone every weekend, earning a new cut, bruise or lump with every job.

I entered the hair salon (Havana, Marple Bridge, Stockport, UK) with no expectations whatsoever, I have had no former experience of ‘hair up’ and I had not visited the salon since I had moved out of town four years previously.  The salon was still frequented by my Mum and youngest sister Sophie, so I new I should be in rather good hands, and I really had no other option but to use these ladies.  Five weeks previous I had been stood up by my friend, hair and make up stylist, on the evening I was due to have my bridal trial.  She subsequently vanished under a veil of scandal and I have not heard from her since.  

Havana are based in the village local to my parent’s farm (the wedding venue) and through divine intervention, had received a cancellation for the date of our wedding, it was surely fate!  

My stylist was Mandy, I had a whole album of hair designs that I had downloaded to my iphone, she patiently let me flick through all the styles pointing out which part of which style I liked and why.  I explained the theme of the wedding was festival meets country fayre and Mandy asked to see my wedding dress.  With this information, and a notion from me that I was happy to try anything and everything to discover the perfect style, Mandy starting weaving her magic into my dull locks.

As I sat in the chair, coffee in hand and Mandy styling away I suddenly feel a wave of emotion take hold, the realisation that I was going to be a bride!  With each curl that was created, I felt more beautiful and each pin that was placed, more elegant.  I was going to be special, I would be walking up to meet my groom.

There must have been roughly 12 styles, loosely based around four main themes, up twisted, half up half down, side sweeps and braids.  The style I chose was a variation on two of the previous styles, a side sweep, braided at the back with a cascade of curls down one side of the face.

I have pictured some of my favourite styles.

What I would recommend for any bride considering her hair is the following:

  1. Most importantly – book practice sessions.  If you are not happy with the stylist, or the styles, communicate the issues and if needs be try another stylist.
  2. Do plenty of research – leaf through all the wedding magazine, fashion magazines, celebrity gossip papers, take lots of clippings, or screen grabs from websites to show your stylist.
  3. Along with the clippings, take your scrapbook of ideas/ design boards to your consultation/ trial.  This will show your stylist the dress design and general theme of your wedding, they can incorporate these themes within your hair style.
  4. Don’t limit yourself to one style or one specific design – the more variety, the more likely you are to find the perfect style when you try it out.  Remember, not every style will suit every face, body, dress.
  5. Take plenty of photos of the style, from different angles, while you are at the salon, most places will be happy to snap away for you.  You can then view the photos at leisure to ensure you are happy with your decision.
  6. Take advice from the friends and family that you trust.  If you are happy with their style advice on a night out, and can take honest constructive criticism, they will be the best people to help you chose your style, should you be torn between designs.
  7. Wear your hair for you, not how you feel you are expected to wear it.  Chose a style that reflects your personality and style, do not try to be too removed from who you are.  You may not want to wear a starched French upsweep if you always wear your hair laissez faire.  You may be unrecognisable to your Groom, or even yourself when you look back at the photos.
  8. If possible, when scheduling your appointment for the day of the wedding, allow time to rectify any styling emergencies, but not so much time that your style may droop before the ceremony or photos.
  9. If at all possible, should you be able to afford it, ask your stylist if they can be on stand by for touch ups later in the day.  Many styles may not require this, but unexpected weather extremes can upset the most secure of styles.

The best laid plans often go awry, I was very fortunate that my stylist was available at such short notice.  
I hope these tips will be of use to you, I can only offer this advice as a recent bride based on my own experience.   I did get rained on, despite the huge umbrellas, I got hugged and pulled, my curls drooped, my pins and fascinator were dragged out when my hair got stuck on buttons of enthusiastic wellwishers, so many of the photos do not do Mandy’s work justice.  However, despite all the wear and tear, the style held up very well, and still looked a darn sight prettier than anything I could have done myself.  In terms of up do’s I am completely sold, I shall certainly be booking Mandy’s creative talents for any future parties.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

The saga of a bride

We did it, we are Mr & Mrs Hallam! – The story in segments….

After 6 and a half years together we have finally tied the knot.  I have neglected my little blog for quite sometime due to the work that was involved in getting the whole show going. 

Much has happened since the last update so I’ll do this in stages.  This entry will be brief, about the dresses.

The new dresses were ordered for the flower girls, with an anticipated delivery within 4 days or ordering.  After a week I made a call to customer services advising me the order was cancelled due to lack of stock.  There was to be no replenishment until autumn, in autumnal colours!  I was most disappointed, they had not attempted to contact me with this news, nor, at this point, had I received a refund!  Long story short, money was refunded, bridesmaid shopping date was set with the girls and I developed a grumpy resentment towards Debenhams.

Now, not only did I have the flower girls to shop for, one of the bridesmaids was not to keen on the colour of her dress.  Both dresses were too large and my seamstress was unreachable, so it was back to the drawing board there also.  Some of my usherettes were also asking if they ‘really had to wear white or green?’  By this point the shine was really rubbing off the whole bridal party lark.   Actually it was beyond dull and into tarnished, and a few tears were becoming more frequent.

I was beginning to feel like a monster, I was becoming irate at things that really shouldn’t bother an independent 32 year old woman.  Brand new underwear not fitting despite being professionally fitted (Debenhams again I am afraid to say), resulting in the need for a return.  This would have been less frustrating, had the size issue not become apparent at my penultimate dress fitting.  As a result, not only did I have to make a trip back to the store for a refund, but I also had to book a return 80 mile round trip to the bridal shop for an extra fitting of my dress.

Other things that were upsetting me were the endless trips down the motorway to move stones, in the rain, or to visit people who couldn’t come to visit me through no fault of their own, but when you feel down, you feel like the world is against you!  Social events and university became an unnecessary drain on my time.  I am usually so enthused and involved in my studies, but I did the bare minimum that I could to scrape a pass, in fact I am not sure I even did that, as the results are not yet in!  Gym classes, weight watcher meetings and school governor meetings were also just another day or evening that would consume my dwindling timeframe.

Every minute outside of work was dedicated to ‘The wedding’.  And the clock was ticking.  The yard still needed clearing, the kitchen, showers and toilets still needed fitting, this was before the bar could be built, the marquees could be erected, the big clean could begin, and the decorating could commence.  So each time I had to lose a three hour window to drive to a shop and back, I was driven closer to distraction.

I had reached the point where I was reconsidering the whole thing.  Rob and I could just go to the registry office as soon as they could fit us in.  Just do it in peace with the pressure off, nothing else mattered, it really didn’t!

There were a few moments like that, the Sunday morning three weeks before the wedding, crying in the rain, sat on a tractor asking myself ‘what sort of bride does this??!!’. 

There was the day that my girlfriends from home were due to visit to do wedding planning.  It was the only date that we had all been available to meet.  The first time ever that they would all come and visit me, I was too sick for visitors. 

The countless times that Rob joked that it was ‘nothing to do with me, I have no say in it’ before I had to ask him to stop winding me up.

The hair and make up artist, and supposed friend who stood me up on my trial who subsequently disappeared off the face of the earth leaving me to find available wedding stylists at 5 weeks notice, who does that? 

The weather reports for the 7th August that were looking bleaker with every update. 

With each hurdle, the kind I would normally leap over screaming ‘yahoooo’, I got a little worn down, less able to sleep and I completely lost my sense of humour. 

Each of these occasions however reminded me of what truly mattered.  Rob and I wanted to marry each other.  We want to spend the rest of our lives together.  We will be a family. 

If people turn up, great!  The more the merrier.  Let them wear what they want, they will be happier for it.  If we have a completed barn, we will party in there, if not we will decorate what we do have.  If it rains, so what, we have already advised people to bring umbrellas and wellington boots.  If we run out of booze, there is a pub within walking distance and a supermarket a taxi ride away and should we run out of food, we can order takeaway.

Circumstances did improve from that point on, and the niggles that arose were met with a more positive outlook.  Bollocks, it was met with apathy, but either way the crap no longer upset me. 

My good friend Claire is also my beautician, she offered to step in to do my bridal make up, my local hairdresser does not do hair up but my Mum and sister still use my old hairdressers Havana in Marple Bridge, they just so happened to have a cancellation for the date of the wedding.  Someone in heaven, or a whole team of them, were looking out for me. 

The bridesmaid shopping trip was a success, the flower girls dresses from Monsoon cost a lot more than I had budgeted for but they were stunning.  Ivory silk pleated skirt with scalloped vest and gold beading.  Debenhams redeemed themselves with two contenders, and floral fifties poodle dress, and the winner, a jade green dress with single shoulder detail.  Again, these dresses were way over budget, and lets not forget I had already bought four dresses that I could no longer return, but the bridesmaids were happy therefore the bride was too!

I said this would be brief, I got carried away, sorry.  Next instalment will be all about my fabulous hens, with almost no moaning J  At least not about Debenhams or hens anyway!!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Progression Project - Web Design and authoring

This was to showcase what we had learned at the end of our level 4 study (year 1).  The brief was to design and build a web site using Illustrator and Flash.  Although this was our end of year project, we were actually introduced to Flash in this project so perhaps not the best way to display our skills as learned over the year.

I don't have a scanned version of the research portfolio... must get that back from Uni!

We also had to submit a reflective report, which I have posted below.

Final Marks: 71 = First

Reflective report

I started writing this report having come away from my new assignment brief, I may have burned a fair few more calories than usual in that my heart was pounding through most of it.  I was the nearest to an anxiety attack that I have been in a long time. 

My problem is not the subject, it is not the marking scheme, it is the fact that we have 7 weeks to complete the assignment (as all modules have been) this coinciding with 7 week countdown to end of school year at work, and countdown to my wedding, that I am organising myself, at my parents half built property! 

My main fear was that the main thing I pulled from the opening presentation was that I would be a group project.  Working in a group is not a problem to me.  Indeed I look forward to sharing ideas with fellow students, and getting to know my peers on a more personal level, but having sat down with my diary and personal organiser the previous evening, syncing all meetings and dates and commitments, I already know that there is not one single day between now and the 6th August, when I do not have to meet someone or build, move or buy something.  Finding time to schedule in meetings, or travel to meetings with potential team members would be, if not a possibility, certainly would stretch me.

I am not beyond being challenged, and am more than used to juggling my time.  I work full time in a school, study this degree, run a photography business, a home and 3 websites.  I am used to not having much sleep because my mind is buzzing with ideas for all aspects of my life.  I could just do without inviting additional responsibilities and commitments on this occasion, in the run up to my wedding.  I want to be fit, beautiful and as stress free as possible when I ‘walk up the aisle’.

Having aired my fears, and discussing with my initial team choice, and personal tutor, I have decided at this point to embark on an individual project.  Iain, my personal tutor, confirmed that I would not receive negative marks for not developing team skills.  During this project I should still be able to demonstrate organising, planning and negotiation skills through my action plans and dealings with the client.

I have two options at this initial stage.  An existing client, Phil Westwood, contacted me recently asking for a DVD of his band’s live gig to be cut up in to small videos, to be uploaded to youtube, and to the website that I have designed, and manage for him.  Phil also works for janitorial services company JSL, and his boss is after a holding page, Phil asked me if I could assist.  Of course in my gung-ho way I just took the invitation, without giving much thought to the rapidly encroaching wedding.  The nature of this progression project gives me the opportunity to kill three birds with one stone.  I can work on these two job’s for Phil and his boss, at the same time as completing the final university assignment for 2010.

I arranged a meeting with Phil to obtain current branding and discuss their requirements in terms of design, function and possible re-branding.  Phil advised that the page was to be a holding page with a telephone that said ‘Website under construction’ to appear as though something bigger was coming, without any intention of pursuing this route, but still giving the client a contact number.

This of course would be very simple to produce but not terribly professional, if they wanted just a static page that held only the contact telephone number, a simple completed page could be created without suggestion of further items in the pipeline.

Phil was not able to provide me with the raw versions of the branding designs, simply a scanned version of the compliments slips.  Here it was apparent that the company offers two main services, janitorial services such as maintenance and service of machines, trading as Janitorial Services Limited (JSL Tameside Solutions) and a cleaning machine hire and sales service, Connect Cleaning Machines. 

The scanned documents were very poor resolution but I attempted to trace the two logos in illustrator.  I contacted the MD of the company, Derek Kelshaw to obtain high quality versions of the logos.  In return I received a copy of the original file.  This was not a bad thing for me in that Illustrator is my weak point at this stage, I have very little experience and knowledge of the software, so the challenge to create vectors of the two logos would only prove helpful to me by practicing using the software.  Although there is a slight niggle with one of the logos, they are fit for purpose and I am rather proud that I created them.

Through out the design process I studied existing websites for competitors within the market that JSL operates.  Most of these websites are created for online purchasing for a range of clients from household domestic buyers to business managers of large companies.  The websites look rather cluttered, almost displaying all their stock and services in the same place, which can be overwhelming for the first time visitor.  This is something I should like to avoid for the website I am creating for JSL.

The website should show from the outset that there are a number of services, and in that the client wants one website for both companies, it should be obvious to the customer, but simple to differentiate.

I have communicated with Derek through all stages, enquiring about design preferences, colour schemes, permission to use existing branding, contact details etc.  This has been through email as I work in the day, and it is recommended to keep a written copy of all directions and requirements for reference, and to protect you in the event that the client changes their mind or forgets the details of the brief.

Derek does not require new logos or a rebrand as the company is fairly new, so I have used the existing logos and taken the chosen colour scheme from the compliments slips that were presented in the initial stages.  I wanted express permission to reproduce the current logos, so enquired about the ownership of the designs, Derek advised that I have full permission to use all aspects of the branding as this is something they created in house.
My designs were drawn as thumbnail sketches in my sketch book and I mocked up my favourite design in illustrator to send to Derek for his thoughts.  He signed it off immediately which is most convenient for me, but in terms of professional development it perhaps would have been beneficial for me to have the initial design rejected, so I could go back to the drawing board or offer alternatives, and seek further advice about what he would want.  But in terms of managing my ridiculous diary, the instant approval was not only a relief but also satisfying as a designer.

The email address for the company is Derek’s business address, which I did not feel would be appropriate to display on the website as the main enquiry address, but at this stage JSL do not have an ‘info’ or ‘contact’ email address.  I gave Derek the option of displaying his email address or creating a contact box that site visitors can use to send e-enquiries without them actually seeing the email address.  This could be as an interim measure until a suitable email address was created.  Derek was happy with the idea for a contact box.

For promotion of the website and the business I created accounts on Twitter and Linkedin, and created a blog and link page.  Not only will this promote the business commercially, but this should help the website’s profile rise within search engines such as Google.  I also created an e-flyer to be emailed to clients, existing and potential, promoting the new website, and social networking profiles.

During this project I have not only been able to practice using Illustrator further, I have also been introduced to Flash animation with Dreamweaver.  This will be a very basic file as it is the first time I have ever used this software.

By importing the Illustrator documents into Dreamweaver I have been able to create a Flash animation file that displays exactly how the website will work.  I have created active buttons to move between pages and create colour changes.  This file will be used to demonstrate the functions and appearance of the website, during my meeting with Derek. 

The design for the home page lists the services offered by the two companies, servicing, sales, hire, repairs etc.  When the cursor is rolled over the list button, the button changes colour, when pressed down to access the page, the button will stay in this new colour, indicating to the site visitor, what page they have selected, or where they currently are.
By pressing the list button, the required page will appear. 

I will be developing the pages for each of the services, but until then, the page will state that it is under development, and will display the company office telephone number, and a link to the contact box for e-enquiries.

The Contact button in the list on the home pages, and sub pages, delivers the visitor the contact page.  This page displays the office telephone number and the aforementioned contact box.

My plan is to create a Flash version for the web as well as a HTML version that can be viewed on portable devices that are not Flash enabled, such as iphones.  I decided to do this as a website that I use on a daily basis, Weightwatchers, has a function within it’s site that cannot be viewed on my iphone.  I find this very inconvenient.  Imagining how a potential customer of JSL will operate, they may need to access the contact details remotely, having the facility to obtain a telephone number for emergency repairs from a handheld device may prove invaluable.

Evaluating my Progression Project I have been able to reflect on how I have performed in this task.  I knew from the outset that I would not be able to put in the same amount of time and effort that I have with every other subject.  As such the portfolio is not as big or interesting as others have been.  I have unlike previous projects, chosen a task or product that would not be time consuming, that would be fairly simple to produce and that would demonstrate my ability to manage time, working to client specifications and liaising with a client. 

Although I am happy with the design, I was not inspired by the subject or enamoured by the content.  In previous projects I have pursued a creative path, exploring artistic themes and immersing myself in the subject.  My studio at home has been decorated with materials to inspire me.  This subject has been more clinical and has not taken over the studio graphically.  I have still posted up designs on the easel, and I have pinned up my action plan and timescales on the walls to show where I am up to, but it has not been a creative little haven.  This project has felt a lot more like work than art, which is a good thing as I am not always going to be producing work that I would want to have on my wall.

During the project I have managed my time with a timetable, as I do for my day to day life.  With my life being in many places and with many activities to juggle, I find that the only way to manage time effectively is to plan it in.  From my fitness regime to commuting, wedding planning and building preparations and meal times, I have it all scheduled in.  This may vary on a week to week basis, for example, there is not a dress fitting every single week, and at half term I am not in school within the week, so I can fit a great deal more self study in.  However on this project, I have not had any leave from work, and the demands on my time for the building activities have increased as we are getting nearer to the big day.  As you will see from my timetable, my existence is a pretty pitiful one at the moment, with no social life and only 2 hours personal time scheduled each week.  Often this personal time is zapped up by additional emergency shopping trips crop up, or last minute demands occur, this seems to be happening more and more at the moment.  It is not fun.

Another useful tool that I have been using is the trusty old action plan.  I was introduced to these during my GNVQ Business days back in 1995, and they have assisted me in many projects over the last 15 years.  This document helps me create to do lists, with deadlines and notes.  It is useful as a reminder, but also shows exactly what has been achieved.  Sometimes I can forget just how much work I have done, this is a nice reminder that I actually have been as busy as I have felt.

The reflective process has affirmed my learning style.  In a previous job I would assess peoples learning styles using aptitude testing with the Myers Briggs Indicator.  This method is a psychometric test that assesses and measures certain preferences and how these affect peoples decision making as well as how it affects peoples views or perceptions.  Having taken the test I know that there are certain boundaries I must consciously push to gain more balance.  I have to set regular challenges so that I do not remain in my comfort zone, and stagnate.  But I also need to know when to say no to additional workloads, and delegate, become less of the control freak that I can be.

We also studied Flemings VARK method.  This categorises people as Visual, Audio, Reading/writing or Kinaesthetic/tactile learners.  I am a mix of two, Visual and Kinasthetic.  I can visualise concepts and I plan using graphic models such as maps, charts, graphs, but I learn best by ‘having a go’.  By touching and going through the motions of an activity, I am very conscious of my brain and body learning the activity simultaneously.  We use this method at school a great deal and the kids are aware of their learning styles, thus helping to provide a mixture of teaching methods suitable for all the class.  My learning preferences mean that during a project I can visualise my product or ideas for draft products at a very early stage.  However when learning new technologies, I really need to use the software to become familiar with it.  A visual demonstration or verbal instruction alone is not enough.  I am happiest when someone can sit with me and talk me through the process, with me taking the reins and pushing the buttons, so to speak.

As a team member I tend to take the role of leader or co-ordinator.  I am more comfortable viewing projects as a whole, and manage schedules.  I do ask for input, and feedback, and try to make group tasks as inclusive and involve everyone, but if there is a quiet person within that group who is shy at coming forth I am not one for digging information out of them.  This can set me out as bullish and occasionally blinkered, but if I have my eyes on the ball and my mind is occupied by the bigger picture, quite frankly I cannot be bothered pandering to someone who will not speak up for themselves.  I used to be shy and learnt the long hard way that if you stay quiet, you will not be heard.

This project is enabling me to practice new skills and develop existing skills.  All the software I am using will be useful for teaching Media and ICT when I study my PGCE for my chosen career in Teaching.  Currently the ICT and Media Department use software to produce webpages, movies, radio reports, posters and publications, the more knowledge I have of the software, and it’s application, the better I will be able to create an understanding for the pupils.
Time management also will be used on a daily, if not hourly basis, as school terms, weeks, days and lessons must be managed against schemes of work within a timeframe, and within a learning period.

I do feel ready now to move onto the next stage, more time to practice using the new software that I have been introduced to.  In particular my new friends Illustrator and Dreamweaver.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Wedding Dress Update, Weight Watching and Kaya Beauty, Ramsbottom

Starting to get very excited now, 59 days on the count down.  17.5lbs off and getting browner by the week, just need that sun to come back pronto to top up the tan!

This fortnight has been rather productive.  I visited the dress shop Maria Modes to try my dress on following it’s journey from the US.  It was as beautiful as I remembered and my word I have certainly lost inches.  The back and waist area have taken the biggest hit, I am yet to do the full measurements, but I have had to book in with the seamstress to get the dress taken in, all good.  I just need to ask her if she can nip/tuck tricep areas too J

Flower girl dresses had to be bought again as the girls have grown at such different rates.  Six year old Emily’s dress is an age 8, perfect length but pinching under her armpits.  Super tall 9 year old Jessica’s aged 12 dress is perfect length, but too large around her chest, more importantly, is white rather than ivory.  So new one have been ordered from Debenhams, outsized ones are up for grabs for anyone that is in need!

Friday, gorgeous sunny day, we spent the day with the gorgeous Paula Bland (pictured above with me) and her equally lovely new husband, Dan Butterfield.  I was privileged to photograph their wedding at Todmorden Town Hall, I'll feature their wedding in my next blog, after I have gone through their photos with them!

Honeymoon balance is paid, next on the list; buy travel insurance, then plan all the excursions.  Orlando, Savannah, NC and NY here we come!

I nipped into Ramsbottom this afternoon, enroute to fat club (weight watchers) for a sunbed, don’t judge me, and a chat with my lovely friend Claire.  Claire owns Kaya Beauty, a gorgeous little beauty retreat in the town centre, just off the main run.  Claire will be waxing, preening and polishing me in the run up to the big day, she kindly booked me in for all my appointments, and I am looking forward to being pampered and having a bloody good catch up.  For treatments call: 01706 825009

My wonderful friends from work are planning a hen party 3rd July over Clitheroe way.  I have no idea what is on the menu, but having heard tales of their nights out I am getting extremely giddy, and a little nervous at the same time.  What ever happens I am certain to make a tit out of myself.  There are three costume options for me to peruse, the anticipation is driving me nuts, I am the worse person to surprise as I am so impatient!

So those are the things to cross off the ‘to do’ list.  There have been a few tears shed, frustration over things not happening as quickly as I’d like (impatience on my part) uni deadline of a project that I got carried away with, food poisoning and people in general.  There, I am certain, will be more tears before the big day, as I get more excited, worried and consumed. 

In the meantime I am savouring every last moment as Miss Clare Waterfall.  Laughing out loud with/at my fiancé, snuggling my cat, gardening with my parents, working with the Bowland lot and playing with my brand new Canon 550d camera.

It’s all good.

Love Clare x

Next blog: New wedding, Paula Bland & Dan Butterfield, coming soon.

Monday, 3 May 2010

McBride Wedding Photographs

Hot Hot Hot

This was my first ever wedding on my own.  I had been an assistant before, but this was the first with me in full responsibility.  Fortunately the bride was one of my closest friends, Claire Wilson, a work colleague at ITV, and I had met her groom Ben McBride on a couple of occasions previously and he was lovely.

The ceremony and reception was held at one venue, a Village Hotel in Nottingham.  Claire’s sister, Nicola Wilson, is a wedding co-ordinator for the chain so they were in excellent hands.  The hen party was also arranged by Nicola at a Village Hotel near Manchester and we had a riot that day also.

The weather was staggering, in fact it was the hottest day of the year.  Poor Claire in her gorgeous Maggie Sottero ‘Riley’ dress, suffered the swealtering heat without losing her ‘cool’ or huge smile all day.

We took the bride and groom to a nature reserve that was just around the corner, for their intimate newlywed shots, and returned to the hotel for group shots.  We nailed the majority of the group shots on time but there were additional’s that were not on the list that sneaked in, so we had to break for dinner.  Valuable lesson learnt, group photo’s and alcohol to not mix, it took an age and the light changed dramatically.  That being said, the couple were happy as we were accommodating additional requests on the shoot, and ultimately their happiness was the priority.

The result were some really energetic, fun looking pictures, which is exactly who Claire is.  I cannot thank Claire enough for allowing me to do my first ever solo project for her special day, and her and Ben have both become fond friends of Rob and I.

The McBride’s were recently blessed with the arrival of a baby daughter Amelia Grace, a gorgeous tiny raven beauty, so congratulations to them.

Album Selection

Clare x

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Liam Frost new video 'Good Things Are Coming Our Way'

Good Friday was for me a day with my Mum sorting wedding budgets and to do lists, Rob however was busying himself in Stockport at the Garrick Theatre as 1stAD to Duck Duck Moose and Son's Stu Gillies on the production of Liam Frost's new music video.  The single is due to be released 3rd May, but you can watch the video on youtube right now!

The video was filmed in one continuous shot using new technology Red Cameras, don't ask me what they do, I just have it on good authority for those in the know, that they are quite fantastic.  You will see Rob's short clad legs climbing a step ladder, but this is not about him, it is a big fat well done to Stu and his partner Joe.  Let's wish them huge success, may it go supersonic for them, and of course to Liam too.

Clare x

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Graphic/Web Design - Year 1

This was a Graphic Design module, the item we were to design was a website.  I had just started working on my friend's site so this was a perfect project for me.

Portfolio at Uni, will get it up on here as soon as I get it back!

Final Mark: 82 = First

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Wedding Websites

One of the first things I did after becoming betrothed, was to create our wedding website.

Aside from a small number of our wedding party, the guests are all online.  Everything I do is online, until recently I paid for my dance lessons online, I order my groceries from, my clothes from fashion websites, my hosiery from, music iTunes, DVD’s, books, flowers or, hair products, the list is endless but I think you probably get the picture.

Anytime I need to check for information I use the internet, checking my bank balance, looking for directions, opening times and so on.

So, where best to allow our guests to obtain all information regarding the big day?  Of course, the traditional invitation pack, with all the directions printed, the menus, the RSVP card, the gist list etc.  Well much as this is lovely, I have 400 guests to invite and I’m not only an eco-sympathiser, I am also a spendaphobic.  And if truth be told, once I have stuck the save the date card to the notice board in the kitchen, I will lose all the other information, the vital postcode, dress code, gift list etc.  It is not intentional or sloppy, I am just very busy, like most people living in 2010.  

With a website people have always got a source to check upon, at any time from almost anywhere, without the embarrassment of guests putting an emergency call into the wedding party en-route (usually running late) to the ceremony. I have been so specific with details that I do not think I have missed anything of any importance (please feel free to correct me here).

Not all electronic invitations are successful, often emails can filter into spam, facebook group invites often go unnoticed (so guilt of that also) and the arrival of the printed or handwritten hand crafted or professionally produced card through the letterbox is terribly exciting.  So we made a compromise.  

Vistaprint offer an incredible service at very reasonable rates.  The Holland based company has a vast array of designs, or you can create your own design, as we did.  They will print your image in most formats.  We selected postcards for invitations to the full ceremony and party and business cards for evening invitations.  The quality is very good and the turnaround is excellent.

The invitations direct guests to the website for all information, with downloads available to print for those who feel secure holding a document.  And for those without access to a computer there is my telephone number printed, and they can request an information pack to be posted.
Guests leave comments, make enquiries and R.S.V.P via the website.  These all come to me electronically, allowing me to process in my efficient, slightly obsessive little way.
The design reflects the event, I wanted guests to get a feeling for the occasion from the outset.  I chose the colour theme for the site, green for the grass in the field, white for the tent, and we carried that through to the invitations and even the wedding party dress.

Designs, themes and schemes vary from wedding to wedding as they do from project to project.  
Those who desire a more romantic feel may want flowers or scrolls, others may want their site to reflect their own personalities or tastes so I would incorporate their specifications and tailor it to them.

If my designs are not to your taste, there are many web design companies who would create a bespoke package for you.  I have a number of contacts with graphic designers and animation specialists that I could refer on.  Feel free to enquire email: or

Clare x

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Wedding Suppliers

Wedding List to date…

Had an exciting appointment yesterday at Hyndburn Council office, the registrar for Rossendale, a lovely warm lady, took all our details to give notice of our intention to marry. The notice will be posted at Preston Town Hall, and so long as no-one has any legal objection we will be issued with authority to marry.

That being sorted we were able to book the legal marriage bit at Bury Register Office. We will marry on the Monday following the Humanist ceremony at my parents. We chose Bury as this was where Rob’s parents Chris and Bernard married, we plan to stage a photograph to do an homage of their wedding photo, we are sentimental old souls.

So lots of plans have been created and some fulfilled, although the venue is far from ready, and I only have one more school holiday left before breaking for summer, yikes.

I’d like to share some wonderful resources and suppliers that have helped inspire me and realise my vision. awesome inspiration for all things wedding, but also for some brain and soul food, look at all the gorgeous pictures, cakes, clothes, jewellery, flowers and locations from some of the world's most creative people and amazing places.

Vivienne of Holloway Tabatha introduced me to this fabulous designer, gorgeous swing dresses, sarongs and bombshell get up and cute accessories.

Betsey Johnson ooooooh shoes! Also accessories, undies, jewellery and handbags

Iron Fist if I was not a fan of shoes before, I certainly am now, quite possibly some of the most exciting shoes I have ever seen, other than those on Jem and the Holograms or the Misfits

I cannot show my wedding dress at this stage but I can say that it is designed by the fabulous Maggie Sottero, a design I fell in love with when searching for Mrs McBride's dress. The lovely Lynne at Maria Modes in Macclesfield is sourcing mine!

I came across Deborah Boyle's work accidentally by flicking through a friend's facebook pics, Deborah had painted Chris and Fran's wedding portrait. When you see the picture I think you'll agree she is a most talented woman!

Mmmmmmmm cake...... The beautiful Amy D from CC Cakes will be creating our special cake. CC Cakes have been supplying wedding cakes to the Royal Family since 1963 and I have sampled Amy's talents at many a Queen/ Crilly event so I know we are in good hands.

Other suppliers to date are the ever dependable Vista Print for the stationary and signage, Marshall Ward who supplied the Teatro bridesmaid dresses and Debenhams designers for the flower girls dresses (although I got them from ebay!!)

The Crazy Hog have been super efficient dealing with my enquiry right from the initial email putting feelers out. They are supplying a hog roast for wedding breakfast, ‘yum yum pigs bum’, and back, and belly.

The exact chairs I was looking for were available for hire. The chairs are for the blessing and general seating, these have been ordered with Dale Event Hire.

Ring, let's not forget the ring, I found my wedding ring at Green & Benz in Manchester, I am not a fan of fussy jewelry but wanted something other than the standard band, the selection here is great.

And finally as mentioned in a previous post, there are more ideas and lovely things to fawn over at

There will be much more to come in the forthcoming weeks. I plan to have it nailed by the end of May so I can spend June concentrating on my bridal beauty regime with the help of beauty therapist and good friend Claire Gill at Kaya in Ramsbottom Tel: 01706 825009, the wonderful half woman half machine Stacey Elder who will be whipping me into shape.

Next on the agenda, portable gas ovens for heating the evening bounty and cutting cloth triangles for the bunting, at 700ft long, this is going to take some time.

Clare x