Home Again

Spring is here. The sun is shining – le soleil brille! I’m not long back from a 4-day stay in Paris where I attended a series of workshops. People-centric writing, Citizen Data Science, video scripting, review of processes and tools…. very interesting (some were even fun). The people on the course were actually super.

The building I was in had 14 floors with magnificent views. I could see the Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower a little way in the distance. I’ll post a few pictures taken on my phone when I get a chance. Paris is lovely. The people were very friendly and helpful – so charming.  I hope to go back in 6 months or so.

Flights both way were just cattle trucks. Hardly any leg room or space. Going over I was sandwiched in the middle of a three-seater. I don’t like being that close up and personal with total strangers. Coming back was worse in some ways. I was in a window seat (Yipou!) but the guy next to me was 6′ (he told me this, btw) and had no room to get comfortable and had to use some of my space just to get reasonably settled. The plane just seemed far too small for its capacity. Landing was delayed by 30 minutes so we were in the air for 2.5 hours instead of the usual 2 from Paris to Dublin (lots of turbulence) just circling around.

But am glad to be home, I have to say. I booked a couple of day’s holiday and go back to work on Tuesday  and tomorrow night I’m off to the Bord Gais to see Tosca so very excited about that.

In the meantime, am washing the international germs out of my clothes and chilling out a bit.

Finally, I put together a quick neon-sign effect video for fun (based on a tutorial on SpoonBlogGraphics site) to express my joy at being home but loving this fabulous world that is our Mother Earth.

Au Revoir!!

Still getting up to speed in Illustrator

Being snowed in and going slightly stir crazy has some benefits. The house got a good cleaning and I spent time with Adobe apps having great fun with online tutorials. Since I got Adobe CC at the beginning of the year I found there was some catching up to do from CS6 (the previous version I had) to the new features and functionality in the cloud suite.

The curvy, organic shapes was created in Illustrator and inspired by Veerle’s blog . The combination of the juicy colours and the lovely curvy shapes drew me in and kept me occupied for a good wee while.

You can check out her tutorial in the link below.

Elegant Gradient Ribbon

The snow is melting away and there’s a fine mizzly rain coming down that’s helping it to go. Back in the office tomorrow so hope this mizzle washes away any snow on the roads. I think it’s pretty clear on the motorway and it’s just the side roads where I live that are still slushy and snowy so no problem driving in. All good.

The sparkle tree

This tree is just across the road from where I live. You can see the depth of snow all about – it certainly looks beautiful when it’s this pristine and white but it makes life difficult.

I took this picture yesterday morning and dusted it with some glowing lights – a simple sparkle brush created in Photoshop. If you Google using search terms like ‘sparkle trail brush’ you’ll find a suitable tutorial to create your own.

The Red Warning has been downgraded to Orange this morning so the worst is pretty much over. More snow is forecast but as they’ve dropped the warning status am guessing it will be light.

Tomorrow’s forecast is our old familiar rain…. hope it washes the snow away and doesn’t turn into sheets of ice….

The beast from the east

We’ve had a big old load of snow! And look at these icicles on the front of my conservatory! Like huge frozen carrots! Weather conditions here are pretty brutal and the snowstorm that brought it over was dubbed ‘beast from the east’ on account of it coming from Siberia. We were all warned not to go out yesterday as storm Emma was on her way and would meet the beast and cause all kinds of havoc. A bit like Godzilla and King Kong. Well, if it happened, it was pretty gentle compared to the beast.

The roads are thick with snow and I wouldn’t dream of venturing anywhere in the car. Public transport isn’t running, schools are closed, as are most of the shops, and everyone where I work has been told to work from home until conditions improve. It’s pretty serious for us. And of course there was no bread in any of the supermarkets by Tuesday evening! Panic buyers.

I woke up yesterday to this giant Christmas cake outside the window:

The heating is on, the fire is on and the oven is on. Am braising a big lump of beef nice and gently and keeping the kitchen warm at the same time. The only time I’ve been out is to take food down the garden for the birds – cheese, the last of the Christmas cake, bird seed, nuts and dried fruits. It didn’t stop snowing yesterday and the poor things sat huddled up on branches looking like little waifs. I went out three times yesterday to keep their food from being covered by snow and to put more out. Our local robin loves cheese and is always one of the first down, as is a lovely blackbird, who looks as fat as a chicken but I think the reality is that he’s fluffed up his feathers to trap his body heat and insulate himself.

I’m running out of things to give them but will mop up some of the beef fat with a bit of stale bread and chop a lump of cheese to make them a high energy meal to help keep them going.

A Cautionary Tale about Car Hire and Adobe Fun with CC


The graphic above was created in Animate – I saw a video that used this effect and wanted to have a go myself. I ended up doing mine quite differently but the end result is the same. Check out the inspiration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SuUjUDGAqt8.

I went to the UK last week and hired a car from a place just a little way from Manchester airport. I hired a Mercedes just for the day. Beautiful car. Beautiful alloy wheels.  I drove a relatively short way – about half an hour, stopped. Then a ten minute drive to another place. Then a 10 minute drive to another place. Quiet side roads,  smooth driving. Nothing untoward.

Took the car back a couple of hours later. Again, smooth roads and driving. The guy went out and said there was a scuff on the wheel arch. WTF?! He got a camera and went and took a picture of it. I said I haven’t scraped or scuffed the wheels. He didn’t listen. He got the paperwork together then – he said ‘Oh – you took out zero excess – you have nothing to pay’.  I don’t believe for a second that I did any damage. When I got back to Ireland, I looked them up. Green Motion Car Hire. Well, check them out yourselves – seems they have a pattern of spotting ‘damage’ to cars and charging inflated sums to repair them. So, the moral of this story, my friends, is if you hire a car – pay the extra – take out zero excess insurance and these nasty, chiselling snollygosters won’t catch you out and empty your pockets.

Adobe CC

I am upgraded to Adobe CC! The previous version was CS6 and a few years old. The new features across the whole suite is a lot to learn but I’ve been trying my hardest.

The video I’ve posted is a mish-mash of Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, Character Animator, Animate and Premiere Pro. It’s a work in progress with a lot still to do (the audio is awful – dunno why that’s so bad) but you get the idea. Stitching all the individual bits and pieces present sits own challenges and am still trying to work out how to include the Animate file (Adobe Fun posted above)  into the video I’ve posted. Hannah is obviously looking and pointing in the wrong direction for the glass ball particle explosion so when I re-do it will reverse the background picture and ball (the picture is taken from Rosie’s Walk by Pat Hutchins – I love the sweet graphics).  There are a ton of things to correct but I’m getting there. It all helps me learn and that’s the objective.


This mountain landscape was a happy little play in Illustrator to get used to the latest interface and icons. It was based closely on this tutorial: https://design.tutsplus.com/tutorials/how-to-create-mountain-landscape-in-flat-style–cms-28759

Anyway, nothing much more to tell so until next time, be happy, have fun and always pay for zero excess.


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