Friday, May 30, 2008

Just a bit too tired

It’s not that the problems aren’t real, it’s just the ability to cope with them is diminished at the moment.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Spring Fling is over

Saturday 24th May
One wonders whether the kitchen will ever recover. Every available surface is covered with pots, pans, trays, bowls and assorted cutting, mixing and spreading devices. A thin layer of cocoa powder and icing sugar coats all. The kitchen sink is but a distant memory. One can only hope at some distant point in the future we will look back on this time and laugh with gaiety.

On a more positive note, the fruit of my loins and bearer of the family name was successful in his endeavour to raise financial contributions to his travel fund by selling everything on his stall within a couple of hours. However, if he pays as little attention to his accounting system as he does to his domestic chores, there is no hope for any of us.

Meanwhile the love of my life has been taking ladies and gentlemen aplenty into her studio, sometimes singly, often in pairs or small groups and exposing her wares to them. Much laughter and noises of appreciation have echoed down the hall. On occasion I have been called to supply her with refreshments to help keep her strength up.

I am just going outside and may be some time…

Extract from: Aristotle and the Hare: A Gentleman’s Journey

So, yes, an intense and busy weekend as my son created and sold out of scones, cookies and slices of cake by 1.30pm at the Castle Douglas Food Town Day. I was able to sample one of his cookies, although I had to pay 25p for it and wasn’t given any kind of family discount, despite doing the big, sad, pleading eyes.

And Spring Fling was a great success for Maggie. Over the three days we had in excess of 320 people though the door, made several sales and had quite a few sign-ups to her online newsletter.

Her studio looked great, but the price paid in order to create the illusion of serene tranquillity and space has been the rest of the house is now full to the brim with boxes, shelving units and large quantities of materials, threads and art-making equipment.

I took a dozen photos in a circle around Maggie’s studio and sort of joined them together into one large picture. Do click on the image below to see in more detail how her room looked.

Special thanks go out to Eryl and Mary who both came along to show support, and also bought various baked items from Rogan.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Spring Fling 2008

Spring Fling is an annual open studio event across SW Scotland, where artists and craftspeople give access to the public to come and see the work they do in the place they create it.

It lasts from Saturday 24th May until Monday 26th and each year it grows bigger and the selection process becomes more rigorous.

The event is widely publicised and can result in many hundreds of people visiting each studio over the weekend. It’s a great chance for the public to meet and buy from the artists directly, and have a nose about the workplaces of creative people.

This year Maggie has been accepted into it, so the past few weeks have been spent planning, coordinating, shifting furniture and generally panicking a great deal.

As if this wasn’t taking up every last waking moment, coincidentally the annual Castle Douglas Food Town Day is happening on Saturday too. The main street is closed off and there are various stalls and food events taking part around the town.

This, of course, has proved to be too good an opportunity to miss for Rogan’s fledgling Cakes business, so he will be out, setting up a table and selling slices of cakes, various biscuits and assorted scones (all home baked), and handing out leaflets to anyone who strolls too close.

Rarely has the Ayres household been so full of excitement, panic, activity and exhaustion all at the same time.

I’m about to head off for my afternoon nap, but I will leave you with the video we created for Maggie’s YouTube page and Newsletter subscribers about Spring Fling.


Friday, May 16, 2008

Cleavage Confusion

The recent warm weather has brought with it a huge amount of exposed flesh wandering up and down the streets. Cleavages of all shapes, sizes and tones have been bouncing about with abandon, triggering within me an age old confusion about how not to look at something which is blatantly screaming out to be ogled.

There’s no doubt it confuses the hell out of the feminist in me.

The younger generations seem perfectly at ease with it all, while the generation above me is forgiven for being lecherous old buggers and are viewed with a certain amount of pity. But for me the dilemma remains: am I allowed to let my eyes roam?

I was brought up with quite a strong feminist cultural background. I knew from the offset that women were in no way inferior to men, and certainly should never, ever be treated just as sex objects.

Fair enough, and I’ve always been a passionate believer in equal rights. But in the confusion of it all there were some less healthy ideas embedded in my psyche, not least the one that seemed to believe all men were potential rapists. This idea horrified me.

As a teenager with raging hormones, it was easy enough to understand the difficulty in trying to keep all these sexual urges under wraps, but the idea of taking a woman against her will was utterly abhorrent. Of course in those days I didn’t yet understand rape is not about sex but power, so lived in a certain amount of fear of what I was told might be capable.

Back then it was my understanding that all women believed that all men were possible rapists in waiting. So before I could ever hope to establish any kind of relationship with a woman, whether sexual or platonic, I would first have to demonstrate all my sexual yearnings were strictly under control.

One form of this was to teach myself not to look at her breasts when talking to a woman. When you are a teenager with raging hormones, this is an incredibly difficult act; there’s no doubt it would have been considerably easier to gouge out my own eyes. But I was determined and by my late teens I had learned how to look women in the eye even when they were wearing the lowest cut blouse.

However, in the past few years in our very distinctly post-feminist culture, there have been no end of fashion programmes for women showing them how to make the most of their “assets” and draw attention to them. From the cut and the colour of the dress through the plunging neckline, to the use of necklaces to draw the eyes right to the sweet spot. Everything is designed to make men look.

So I’m left in a state of perpetual disorientation as the twin forces of cultural upbringing and in-your-face marketing pull my eyes, brain and conscience in opposite directions.

I suppose I have to conclude that a brief admiring browse is acceptable or even desirable, but no woman is likely to enjoy being gawped at or feel the drool dropping into her cleavage.

But this in turn makes me wonder how many women, when I was younger, must have wrongly concluded I was not interested in them because of my utter failure to offer an appreciative glance…

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mon fils, l'entrepreneur

“Mum, Dad, can I go skiing with the school next year?”

Mum and Dad exchange glances. The financial situation is not brilliant.

“Of course son, so long as you pay for it.”

“What, like last year when I saved up my money and did extra jobs around the house so contributed nearly a third towards the costs?”

Awkward pause…

“Er, no son, you’ll need to contribute considerably more this year. Extra jobs around the house are still taking money from our pockets. I’m afraid you’ll need to find a way to bring in an external income…”


And so began discussions, brainstorming, head scratching, scribbling down ideas, dismissing them, revising them, and the creation of a waste basket overflowing with screwed up sheets of paper (ready for recycling, of course) until our friend Mark asked if Rogan would bake a cake for his wife’s birthday.

Hand made, home baked cakes to order

Mark knew Rogan was looking to earn some money and also knew he has his mother’s touch when it comes to baking. Thus a new business was born.

Leaflets still need to be created, but word of mouth is already spreading and he has a couple of orders lined up for next month already.

The past few days have been spent helping Rogan set up a spreadsheet for accounts, a client database, a cake database (or cakabase as Rogan like’s to call it) and, of course, a basic website.*

Using Blogger and removing the dates and comments options, we’ve managed to create a free website which isn’t plastered in all the ads most free websites insist on. So when you’ve got a moment, do pop over to These are not just cakes…

I’m afraid postage and delivery options are zilch for this business. If you want to order one of Rogan’s cakes you need to be able to pick it up yourself. However, if you know anyone in, or passing through, SW Scotland, do point then in Rogan’s direction.

*Some fathers teach their kids how to build train sets, go fishing or light a campfire…

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Window of the soul...

There are those who say the study of dreams can give us valuable insights into the subconscious.

Some take it further and say dreams offer us prophecies and visions of the future if only we can discover the correct interpretation.

And for others still, dreams are seen as a connection with the divine; a point where we can touch the mind of God or the Infinte.

However, I'm still trying to work out the significance of one of last night's dreams, which was set in an alternate universe containing a couple of minor TV celebrities with superhuman powers and I was in that awful position of realising I hadn't packed any clean underwear for the journey.