Snap Up That Jam Jar

One of the earliest hand-prepared gifts I remember receiving was a Christmas sweetie jar. My best friend decorated every “panel” on a jam jar with a different picture or pattern on each, using colourful permanent markers. She filled it with pick’n’mix (choosing known favourites and throwing in a few unusual picks, too).

The sweets were gone before new year, but I kept the jar for years, using it as a container for nick-nacks.

Traditional jam jars will work much better for this craft, as they contain many flat surfaces. Mason jars are, of course, very trendy, but they’re all curved corners and relief writing. No, stick with a washed re-used jar and feel good about not buying new stuff when you didn’t need to (AND re-using stuff, which takes less energy that recycling it).

I’ve seen a ton of “gift in a jar” ideas on Pinterest; lots of them are super cute achievable ideas. If you like the sound of an option you see, or come up with your own idea, but are worried about the perceived level of giftiness, I think a hand decorated jar adds that extra something.

Happy crafting (and happy weekend! As I write, I’m at the end of a looooong week, my weekend has got a lot of R&R to deliver…)


Plain English Campaign

If you’ve ever felt frustrated by the word “action” as a verb, or struggled to understand a sentence that tries to replace every common day word with a technical-sounding equivalent, then this is the campaign for you: Plain English.

You may also be heartened to hear that guidance was issued to councils in 2009 banning a list of words and phrases felt to be used as meaningless jargon.

The UK Lorry Trade as a parable for the economy.

My friend shared this story today. For anyone that has 3 mins spare, I thoroughly recommend fully reading the first half and skimming the rest.

Key observations:

  1. In a free market, increasing demand and/or decreasing supply causes price increase. The rate of increase tells us how “elastic” the goods or services are. There is no scope for negative elasticity. Thus, ever reducing wages suggests that HGV driving is not a free market. There is little to set Lorry driving apart from ALL other work. Proposal: the labour market in the UK is not a free market
  2. Agencies mostly operate on the model that desperate people will pay whether is asked for something they need. This is not a moral standpoint.
  3. There is no mandate in governmentto understand the country’s labour needs and invest to meet those needs as they arise (training, career progression schemes, offering sabbaticals to specialist staff). A FTSE 100 company lacking this type of strategy… would not remain FTSE100 for long.
  4. I really don’t want to live in the UK any more.

Rennie Mackintosh

On my trip to Glasgow (mentioned yesterday), we had a sliver of time free before needing to head to the airport on Sunday morning. We got brunch, and then made our way to the University, with the intention of going to the Mackintosh house. The trams weren’t running due to maintenance, so it took us a little longer to get there (although did mean that we only paid a pound each for the journey – winning), and by the time we made it, probably not via the most efficient route, and slightly weighed down by our luggage, it didn’t seem worth the entrance fee (£5 per person at time of writing) to get twenty minutes looking around. We ended up at the Hunterian Museum instead – free and varied, but more on that another day.

The Mackintosh house is definitely still on my “to-visit” list, whenever I’m next back in the city. Why? Well, because Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret Macdonald Mackintosh produced so much iconic work that is such a big influence on my taste in interiors and architecture – I mentioned the Everard’s Printing Works in my post about Broad Street, Bristol, but didn’t see fit to mention the butterflies it gives me every time I lay eyes on it. It’s not hard to see the Art Nouveau influence on the work (and not just in the lettering).



Growing up, a house that I lived in for four years had a cast-iron fireplace that featured decorative panels very similar to these ones designed by Margaret. I also had the version of  Grimms’ Fairy Tales illustrated by Kay Nielsen (featuring this astonishingly beautiful piece, Twelve Dancing Princesses). The way real-world elements of the designs (e.g. humans, trees) are forced into geometric shapes has always fascinated me.

Cafe Gandolfi

About a month ago, I was in Glasgow unexpectedly (for a funeral). The time put aside for that and the resulting scramble to catch up at work is part of the reason I ended up taking a break from blogging. The rest of the reason is mostly laziness and getting out of the habit of it…

So, Glasgow. It’s where half of my family are from, but I’ve spent little time there, mostly in family homes (rather than out and about in town). Which is why, upon finding ourselves with a (dry enough) Sunday morning spare before our flight home, we decided to mostly just stroll around, have a look at the architecture and get brunch somewhere. We had a couple of other half-baked plans that didn’t come to full fruition, but I’ll cover those in another post.

Armed with some search results and a vague understanding of the city map, we made our way to Cafe Gandolfi in the Merchant City area. Open for more than 30 years, it actually feels very modern inside, despite the fact that I believe a lot of the features are original – the unusual furniture, for example, was commissioned at the time of opening (the photo linked there is actually the corner that we sat in when I went there! W sat in the throne-like chair and found it very comfortable). Very little inside is not made of wood (down to a large clock whose very mechanism looks to be made of driftwood) and the overall feel is suitably cosy, and surprisingly light and bright for the colour of the paneled walls.

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