Monday, 31 March 2014

Birthday pagoda and temple visit

It was my birthday on Friday and I had a wonderful long birthday weekend with my bestest bud, Lauren, who came up from Devon to stay. We met up with some uni pals in London on Saturday, but before that I took Lauren to my favourite place in MK… The Peace Pagoda and Buddhist temple at Willen Lake – we even went inside the temple to see the shrine, which I’d never done before.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Beginnings of the 7 Wonders of Milton Keynes

I am working on a personal design/writing project that I am referring to as the 7 Wonders of Milton Keynes – the title being the result of a conversation on Twitter with a fellow Milton Keynsian (that’s a thing, alright?). I am only in the initial stages currently – I haven’t done any design yet, but I have been researching and writing.

Basically, I haven’t always been the biggest appreciator of my hometown, particularly when I was living in Falmouth. But when you live in Cornwall, it’s hard to appreciate anywhere half as much! However, I have learnt to like and maybe even love certain things about Milton Keynes and I think I’m proud to call it my hometown… at least I will be when I finish this project.

It’s one thing when I bad-mouth Milton Keynes a little bit, I have lived here almost all of my life, but it is quite different when those that have barely ever been to this town do it. So, I want to prove that Milton Keynes isn’t lacking in good bits by highlighting what I feel are the 7 Wonders of Milton Keynes:
  1. The Concrete Cows
  2. The Peace Pagoda at Willen Lake
  3. MK Rose at Campbell Park
  4. The grid system & roundabouts
  5. Redways
  6. Trees, trees and more trees…
  7. Culture!
I didn’t compile the list entirely by myself though. I asked around on Twitter and got a lot of positive feedback regarding everyone’s favourite places in Milton Keynes. Not everything made the 7 – ultimately it is my project, but a lot of people had the same ideas as me. Thanks especially to those that suggested MK Rose and the redway system!

I currently have a first draft of the text, which is about 250–300 words for each of the 7 – except I got a bit carried away by the time I got to ‘Culture!’ and it’s more like 500. I had originally intended for this to be a poster project but I’m now thinking I want to design a book[let], as well, with several pages of photographs for each of the 7, plus an introduction to the whole project. Whether I’d actually be able to get any copies printed is another matter, but that’s why Issuu exists.

Something I also need is photographs! I have some photos already that might be suitable for some of the 7 (so, so many trees), plus I’d like to go out and take some more. But it would be really great if you have any photographs that you think would fit with the 7 Wonders of Milton Keynes (listed above), for you to submit them to me. Of course I will give complete credit and can link to any websites or Flickr accounts when I post the end result on my blog/website. And probably within the booklet as well as it’s likely to be viewed digitally.

If you think you can help and have any photos you’d like to be a part of this project, please send me a link or a low-res version of the image to:
If I think your photos are suitable I will request a higher resolution version.

You can also talk to me on Twitter about this project if you like. :)


Friday, 21 March 2014

Sunshine, showers & sunset

I stopped off at Willen on my way home from work, hoping to capture the amazing lighting/clouds before the sun set completely. I didn’t get very far, because it started raining and grey clouds set in, but here some tree photos…

…and then the sun came back out as soon as I got home. British weather!

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Reviving Flickr

After asking around on Twitter whether there was a better website to upload, share and categorise photos (result: there wasn’t really), I decided to revive my Flickr account. Mostly for the purpose of sharing my Japan photos – in ‘sets’, day-by-day or place-by-place. But as I haven’t been to Japan yet, I’ve been uploading other photos.

If you ever looked at my Flickr account before (I’m talking a few years ago), you will remember that I used it for only two things: Trees and Signs & Lettering. Those ‘sets’ are still there, with a few more photos added to each – when I say a few I mean a lot of trees and the odd sign here and there. I now have a Doors ‘set’ as well, but I haven’t dug out all my door photos yet. Plus Milton Keynes and Stockholm. Could do Berlin as well… getting a bit carried away with my 1 terabyte of space.

Anyway, isn’t the new Flickr way of displaying photos, nice and large, pretty?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Tree Cathedral

Contrary to popular belief, Milton Keynes does in fact have a cathedral… it is just that it is made of trees. Now, I like cathedrals (architecturally not religiously) and I love trees so the tree cathedral at Newlands, near Willen Lake, is right up my [tree-lined] street.

“The tree cathedral’s outline is based on Norwich Cathedral and was designed in 1986 by landscape architect Neil Higson. He chose different species of trees to represent the character of the Cathedral's sections: hornbeam and tall-growing lime for the Nave, evergreens to represent the central tower and spires, flowering cherry and apple as a focus in the chapels.” The Parks Trust

I spent a little while this afternoon wandering around and inside the ‘cathedral’. Despite both of the Willen lakes and Gullivers Land being packed with people, I was the only person at the tree cathedral. I think it is relatively unknown to most Milton Keynsians – although I am by no means complaining, it was lovely to have it to myself. Even with the busy dual carriageways running alongside and the occasional scream of a child in the neighbouring theme park, it was quite peaceful.

First, some flowers.
Inside the ‘cathedral’.
Sun! I kinda like it.
Up to the viewpoint from the Chapter House Mound.
The middle.
Lots of different trees… that I cannot name.
Trees form archways.
Yes, I Photoshopped this one a little:
Back to Willen Lake and up this hill…
And back to the Buddhist monastery/temple again – I can’t stay away.
One World Tree.
Pagoda through the trees.
The Labyrinth.

I realise I’m not much of a photographer – the sky colouring is all over the place. I like to think of this more as documentation of my afternoon than an example of good photography. It’s not a good example of photography, I just like trees.

The Grand Budapest Hotel

I was recommended, the film, The Grand Budapest Hotel by a few different people – all of whom I trust to have good taste. I hadn’t seen the trailer and I didn’t know anything about the film. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t seen any Wes Anderson films prior to this one – actually that’s a lie, I have seen Fantastic Mr. Fox which I liked – but if the others are anything like The Grand Budapest Hotel then I don’t doubt that I’d love them too. Anyway, it’s no secret that I am terrible with films – I haven’t seen Mary Poppins.

So anyway, I watched the trailer on Tuesday night – was intrigued – and went to see the film on [orange] Wednesday.

I really, really liked the film. It was fun and quirky and I like how it was filmed… although I couldn’t tell you what I mean by that because I don’t know a thing about film making technicalities. I also felt the way it was put together appealed to me as a graphic designer. Although I couldn’t quite put into words why… Aside from the amazing lettering used for the ‘Part One’, ‘Part Two’ etc. interlude images. (I can’t find images of these or I would be sharing them all.)

It wasn’t until the next day when I read this article on the Creative Review Blog about the graphic design used in the film that I realised just how much that beautiful underlying design had an impact on my opinion of the film. Afterall, I am a graphic designer and that is first and foremost how I view the world.