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In Praise of Orange Fountain Pens (and other things)

I was inspired to blog about our Orange PLOOMS fountain pen as a result of a letter I 
received this week from Sandy at Scarlett & Mustard
Founder, Sandy and I corresponded as we were both chosen by Julie Deane
 of the Cambridge Satchel Co as female entrepreneurs to watch in 2015.
(No pressure then!)
Sandy sent me some of her fabulous Passion Fruit & Lemon Curd and I 
sent her a PLOOM fountain pen - in Orange - to match all her stationery.
Orange PLOOMS fountain pen
It got me thinking how much I love orange and what an underrated colour it can be. 
So here are:

10 reasons to love the colour Orange

1. Orange flowers can be oh so beautiful

Sally Page Tulip
Sally Page: Gerbera, rose and hydrangea
Sally Page: Ranunculus & Gelder Rose

2. Penguin Books are Orange

3. An Orange PLOOMS fountain pen likes to write wise words, 
friendly words and send postcards from its travels

Orange PLOOMS fountain pen
Orange PLOOMS fountain pen
Orange PLOOMS fountain pen
Orange PLOOMS fountain pen
Orange PLOOMS fountain pen
Orange PLOOMS fountain pens

4. Apricot Jam is Orange

Orange PLOOMS fountain pen

5. A good sunset needs a touch of Orange

View from PLOOMS office in January

6. People (and mice) look good in Orange

Orange PLOOMS fountain pen
Lazy Lizard Mouse with orange PLOOMS fountain pen

7. Oranges are Orange (!)

Sally Page photo for Neal's Yard Remedies
Sally Page photo from The Flower Shop Christmas

8. Orange goes with so many other colours

Sally Page: photo from A Year's Journey around English Flower Shops
Pink ...
Orange PLOOMS fountain pen
Orange PLOOMS fountain pen
Turquoise ...
Green ...

9. Orange Smarties taste better

And yes, we like Orange Jelly Babies too!

10. Orange balloons have more fun!

Sally Page: photo from Pythouse Walled Garden

Blooming PLOOMING: Messages from the Flower Shop

A PLOOMS fountain pen is never happier than when writing message in ink amongst the flowers.
Red PLOOMS fountain pen
Red PLOOMS fountain pen

And as luck would have it I am never happier than when in a flower shop too.
Today I was in Sprout & Flower in Mere in Wiltshire. 
I first met owner, Sarah, when I was writing my series of books about flower shops. 
We worked together at Ted Martin Flowers, the subject of my first book, 
The Flower Shop; A Year in the Life of an English Country Flower Shop.
Sarah has a fabulous eye for colour and clearly loves her wonderful shop
and as the name suggests, she sells fruit and vegetables as well as flowers.
 Sarah also does a great line in bread and croissant at the weekend.
 And I do like a flower shop with a piano in it!
Pink PLOOMS fountain pen
Pink PLOOMS fountain pen
The thing is you can say anything with flowers (and with a PLOOM!)
Green PLOOMS fountain pen
Green PLOOMS fountain pen
Perhaps even sprouts have something to say!
Purple PLOOMS fountain pen
Purple PLOOMS fountain pen

Orange PLOOMS fountain pen
Orange PLOOMS fountain pen

Green PLOOMS fountain pen
Green PLOOMS fountain pen
It took me back to my days working in a flower shop - oh how I miss it!

Purple PLOOMS fountain pen
Purple PLOOMS fountain pen
Despite the cold and the need for thermals, mittens and thick boots, I had a great day. The sun shone through the windows and apart from the fact we could see our breath in the cold air, we would have believed it was early summer!

Sarah sends flowers all over the UK 

Painting on a rainy Sunday

Today I decided to try and paint my eldest daughter, Alex.
A few years ago I discovered acrylic paints - oh so much easier than watercolours
They do dry quickly, so I soak kitchen towel in water, put greaseproof 
paper on top and put the blobs of paints on to that.
 I use a plate for mixing and gradually build up layers and textures.
 I don't try and match the colours of her face and hair, but 
choose a palette of colours I like.
 In this case, mustards, browns with purples and greens.
 I leave the most difficult parts to last - Alex's eyes and lips.
 I am not sure I have got is perfectly right - but I can see her in there somewhere!

New Year. New Book.

My New Year Resolutions often combine a list a things I hope to get around to reading
 and skills I would like to master. 
In this case, thanks to Bella West, I was able to kill two birds with ...well book.
Bella West is a highly accomplished portrait, wedding and fashion photographer. 
My gift to myself for Christmas was her book explaining how to 
photograph children in natural light.
With grown-up daughters I rarely photograph children these days - but I was
 sure I would learn something from Bella's book that I could apply to
 other areas of photography. If I could master one tenth
 of her skill with lighting I would be happy.
I spent the New Year with a group of family friends in France and in between
 drinking wine and chatting, I poured over her book - and then persuaded some of my 
friends and their children to be my models. 
Using light from one source - short focal length and under exposure.
 Using natural stone to set off texture. This would have benefitted from
 a reflector to bounce slightly more light onto Flora's face. 
It would also have helped if I had had my tripod with me 
as there is slight blurring from camera shake (nothing to do with the wine!)
 Gorgeous Ruari made the perfect model!
 This was shot with quite a long focal length in evening light. 
The mural on the wall gave a good contrast to Ruari's strong features.
Evening and morning light can be fantastic as they are not too strong 
but give good illumination and interesting shdowows.
Bella's book also deals with photographing a subject in strong direct sunlight.
I love this photograph of Tabbin who is recovering from cancer and Chemo.
Naked of make-up and with her hair just beginging to grow back, I think it illustrates 
the strength of a remarkable woman.

If you are interested in photography I cannot recommend this book highly enough. 
I won't claim to have attained Bella's standard - but I did feel I was
 heading in the right direction.
(With many thanks to Jeannie, Ruari, Tabbin, Eleanor and Flora)