Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Grange Fell photo

I love this photo it's one of my better shots, where I actually thought about the composition!

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Filo tweaks

Just a quick filofax update this one.
I've tweaked my set up a little so that to-do's are section one and diary wt2p is section 2. This makes it easier to write in the diary pages, and access my to do list. Such a simple change but very helpful!
I've also added photos cut from National Geographics to the front of most sections, trying to match the main colour of the photo to the section tab for niceness. So blue tab = sperm whales, green tab = new forest ponies. These are only bluetacked on the the tabs whilst I decide if I like the order!

Thats all for now really. We're plodding along nicely.

Though I am tempted by the dodo pad academic inserts.... and Logic still needs a job.
I'm thinking of making him an 'outdoors' organiser. For fell walks, gear, nature stuff, adventures, and that sort of thing, but I haven't taken the plunge with it yet...

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Super vets

So it's the summer after my third year and I'm out seeing practice.
This current place is my second placement this summer and it's amazing.
The vets are kind, and considerate, frequently going above and beyond the call of duty, without really ever mentioning it. The nurses are friendly and compassionate. Everyone very genuinely cares very deeply for the animals under their care, and strives to do the very best the can, all the time, every time.
It's the sort of place where if your dog goes in for some dental work, and they notice his claws are over grown, they'll trim them, but not charge you. The sort of place where if you're cat has to stay in some one will always make sure they get plenty of cuddles, and a brush everyday.
They're also very kind and happy to teach me, giving me every possible opportunity safely (today I was guided through a cat castration, and assisted on two big ops on cows to correct twisted stomachs.) quite frankly it's the best supervision and guidance I've ever had. I guess they've been doing it a long time.
But with an upcoming programme on BBC1 tomorrow night, which ahead of time seems likely to be quite unbalanced and sensationalist, I just wanted to put it out there that some vet practices really are fantastic, and often you don't even realise it.
Please don't tar us all with the same brush.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Dave Millican

Yesterday I went to the Cumberland show.
Mostly to look at cattle and sheep breeds, take some photos with my shiny new Nikon D5000 (Aren't fathers brilliant!) and pretend that it was 'veterinary work'.
And so I pottered about, meeting and catching up with friends, human and animal.

But then a stall caught my eye. Millican.
Full of beautiful vintage bags, that inspired their own contemporary classics. Looking around the stall I couldn't help but think that if Indianna Jones was looking for a pack, he'd have one of these.

Now anyone who knows me is familiar with what my family affectionately call my 'bag fetish'. Since I was tiny I've been looking for the perfect bag. So of course I had to look around the stall!
I ended up chatting to Nicky and her Mum who have been up and running with Millican for around a year now.

Millican is named after Millican Dalston - quite a well known figure in Cumbria who in 1897 quit the rat race in London to live in a cave in Cumbria. Well actually he stayed in huts and camped in home made tents for a bit first and then moved into his cave on Castle crag.
Millican is remembered for his eccentricity, intelligence, and humour. Outside the wall of his cave he carved the words "
Don't waste words, jump to conclusions" but my favourite quote is "You can't feel lonely with nature as your companion.". In fact I'm so interested I've ordered a biography on this 'gentleman of the hills.'

Anyway Nicky and her husband Jorit met whilst back-packing in South America, and once they came home, got jobs, and got sick of jobs, they decided bravely to embark on their own business. For them, a brand name isn't just a name, their location, philosophy and approach to business shares much with Millican Dalston. And in my opinion they are better for it.
Now one year down the line and they must be so proud!
They are as sustainable as possible - the cotton is organic and the wool for their cooler bags comes from a local farm in Cumbria who have a flock of Herdwicks. Millican pay a fair price for the wool, to help the farm with the costs of shearing (As in it would normally cost you a whole lot more to shear your sheep than you get back on the fleeces.)
I love this, a Cumbrian business, based in Keswick, supporting other local people and being supported by them too.
The range of bags are fantastic. Day pack with a zip down the middle? Check. Modern Gladstone? Check. Waist packs, wash rolls, Messenger bags? Check check check.
And all the bags are named after Nicky and Jorit's friends.

So the new friend I went home with?
Dave is named after a sheep farmer, and is a roomy back pack with some very nifty design features.
The fastenings are some rather nice press studs - suitably robust and simple to survive life with me I think! The top has a drawstring opening, and there's a useful pocket at the back for phone/ipods or for walkers I reckon your gps would still get signal stuffed in here.
On the front is a organiser pocket - and on either side there are side pockets. Now this is where it gets clever.
Each side has a robust 'small' side pocket which also has a well behind it to fit a drinks bottle (they also make stainless steel bottles on 0.5l and 0.8l sizes) But there are larger pockets behind even these. One side opens up to reveal another organiser pocket - helpfully with a pouch designed to fit OS maps in!
The other zips around to give entry into the interior of the pack.
I think this is brilliant because:
You can unpack stuff from the bottom with out messing it up.
You can stick a dslr holster in the bottom and still have the quick but secure access you see on some lowe pro bags without your pack screaming 'mug me!'
You can stash and retrieve files / folders/ laptop quickly and easily on the go.
And the zips are all protected by a rain guard.
Inside Dave there's a pouch for paper work / water bladder, with a port to the back of the bag in the top.
Dave also has adjustable and removable sternum straps (perfect for the more vertically challenged ladies like myself), straps for people who walk with poles (I intend to adapt them for use with a tripod) and a built in waterproof cover that stashes away in the bottom nice and tidy, but also helping pad the bottom of the bag, for people who like me, sling a pack down and then cringe as they remember they're beloved laptop has also just bounced onto the ground. There's an extra handle on the front panel and adjustable and removable waist straps too.
The cotton canvas has also been weather proofed, and the leather on the backs is vegetable dyed.

Can you see now why I couldn't resist? Add to that the superb guarantee and a discount voucher for a later purchase and even the most staunch stall admirer was reaching into their pocket.
And rightly so.

If you want to talk to some practical, friendly, ethical, people on the end of customer relations, you want to talk to Millican.
If you want a bag that will age slowly and gracefully (I suspect much more so than I will), a bag that is as at home in Marrakesh as London, and a bag that has been produced locally, sustainably and ethically you want a Millican.

The weather today is just too questionable for a someone relatively new to hill side navigation, so instead I dug out Alfred Wainwright's Northern Fells to have a look at Castle Crag. It seems like a fun idea to take Dave to see Millican's Cave!
In fact I can see many adventures ahead of Dave and I.
I think Dave might just be the last day pack I ever buy. He might just be 'the one'.
Adaptable to vet school, traveling, camera carrying, fell walking, and all the adventures in between, I couldn't ask for more.

So check them out. You won't regret it.

Above: My old gladstone, a recycled canvas army kit bag that was a gift from my father, with Dave his contemporary new companion.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Filo finds a friend!

A recent post on Philofaxy asking readers about their multiple filofaxes got me thinking.
I have Filo my songbird personal, and also a Botanical pocket that went round Australia with me, and was my first filofax.
But hiding at the back of Filo is a blue Filofax plastic wallet that I had stashed in a stationary drawer. But where did it come from?

I had vague memories of a black filofax at sometime. So I did what all Philophaxers would. I went hunting. Boxes in the cupboards, wardrobes, and under the bed. Actually I got a bit distracted organising and re-organising on the way, but hey it's one more job off the 'to-do list'!
Then I ventured into the garage - which is full of shelves of boxes of, for want of a better word, junk. Too many to organise today. But peeking and poking around, inside one of them I found......
A filofax!A black Logic zipped organiser in Personal size to be exact.
He's barely been used. (Definitely a he this FF) Red White and Blue subject tabs, to do pages, world map, whited ruled and quadrille paper, addresses.... and noticeably no plastic wallet so 'logically'... It's elementary my dear Watson! (sorry couldn't resist!)

So now Filo has a friend, Logic. Now then this opens up a world of opportunity.
What shall I do with logic?
He could be a larger travel FF, and the zip around and pocket on the outside back cover might be very handy for just this.He could be a record of nature notes for my local patch - alphabetised species list, diary and sketches could all be implemented.
Reading through the Philofaxy comments he could do so many things! Whatever use I find for him though I think he has a definite 'business' feel to him, rather than the cheery friendly vibes that emanate from Filo.
At least till I decide I've got some free refills for Filo, so she knows I still love her.
I hope she doesn't get jealous!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Getting to know you, getting to feel free and easy...

So my Personal Songbird Filo has been following me around for the last 3 weeks, and I thought I'd write up about how we're getting on.

It's taking a little while to really get to know each other. We hit it off straight away in our first week together at University, with the diary pages being useful for reminders as I revised for some exams, and the to do pages immediately making themselves useful.

Week 2 together saw me start a placement working with a vet close to home so the diary pages became a sort of mini journal of notable events during the day. I can't really include pictures of week 2 notes because I've written farm and animal names so sorry but it's client confidentiality!
It was after it became obvious that Filo wasn't keen on having her diary pages beyond Jan 2011 that I think we started to get cozy during week 2, mostly reading the Philofaxy blog together over a cup of tea:
We shared vet contacts in the address section - it's much handier to have all of these with the diary, and I even trusted Filo to look after my debit card so it's always to hand.

Week 3 has zipped past with my Filo gently but insistently reminding me to send my rent, and that I was going to see Cirque du Soleil on Thursday, as well as continuing to be a little journal of my placement. Filo also helpfully and instantly provided me with a pen, note paper, and proved herself to be trustworthy with my debit card when I had to call Apple to get a new MBP charger after mine died.
It's during this last week that we've really started to bond. I have added a goals section - writing a bucket list and starting my 101 goals in 1001 days list, and a list of books to read this summer.
The colourful pages included have become home to a sort of 'creative' section, where I've jotted a few quotes that I've come across, and ideas for little projects. This is a sort of commonplace book section inspired by GeorgieR on Flickr:
and Silver_Elixir:
After reading Gala Darling ( together, we've realised there is much more potential and week 4 hopefully will see a few more additions and modifications especially at the front. Eventually I hope opening my filo will be as much fun for me as it must be for NHgrrl! (

So this is how Filo looks now:
Filo seems to be telling me she wants some photo/picture/sketch additions to the section dividers, and I think that's only fair given all the work she's put into our relationship so far!

What more can I say? I've not looked back since my Moleskine developed a terminal case of "Planner fail" (see Plannerisms blog : and we seem to be getting along nicely.

PS: Don't tell me it's not normal to have a relationship with my filofax. I know. I can't help it.