Listening to San Fermin

I discovered San Fermin via a session on BBC 6 Music – despite hearing them in December I’ve only just got around to ordering the CD. Well worth the wait as it’s gorgeous!

San Fermine is brainchild of 24-year-old Brooklyn based composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone who looks suitably eclectic with a hint of geek about him. I’ve seen a review describing the sound as ‘baroque pop’ and ‘gloriously complex’, Ellis calls it “a concept album in that it’s meant to be listened to front to back.”


Remembering Classic Kids Telly

The Royal Mail launched some great stamps today featuring classic children’s TV characters – it did make me feel old though as I remember watching most of the old ones – Mr Ben and Bagpuss were a particular favourite – disappointed not to see Morph and I’m not sure Peppa Pig is a ‘classic’ – Charlie and Lola would have been a far better choice.

I like the little detail of having the characters break out of the stamp format – bit of a die cut challenge!


Falling in love with Esmeralda

Esmeralda Pro is a beautiful Open Type font which I discovered while browsing the excellent ‘I love Ligatures’ website.

To quote the designer Guille Vizzari:

“Esmeralda was born with a strong influence of the classical “capitalis monumentalis”, carved in stone. In the same way, the origin of this majuscule writing emerged from the brush, from a way of writing made merely by hand. For this reason, these two universes were intended to lie beneath the shape of each letter, redefining them. And this combination of styles should also be reflected in a lower case set that also allows to open up the spectrum of usage possibilities. Foundational calligraphy represented a solid base for the development of lower case glyphs, ensuring proper interaction with the upper case letters.

“Esmeralda” features a great number of ligatures that mix classic structures with a more contemporary impression. With more than eleven hundred glyphs, it provides a multiplicity of uses across a wide combinatory of ligatures, alternative signs, initial caps, miscellaneous and connectors; each one of them accessible through Open Type.

“Esmeralda” is perfect to speak with a classical yet fresh, modern – and a little bit bold – tone of voice.


Learning about Agate

I’ve been looking for a metal type scale – I did have one when I was a student at Liverpool Polytechnic but I’ve mislaid it, probably thinking “I won’t be needing that again!”

I found one in the US on – with both picas and agate measurements on – it’s a useful 24 inches long with a handy hole to hang up.

I’ve never heard of an Agate so I’ve discovered it’s a measurement relating to 5.5 points, or about 1/14 of an inch. An Agate font is commonly used to display statistical data or legal notices in newspapers. It is the smallest point size that can be printed on newsprint and remain legible. The Guardian has a specially designed Agate sans for use in it’s classified and sports sections.

type scale

Making resolutions #2

As I’m increasingly living an analogue life (listening to vinyl, letterpress printing etc) I’m planning to start a ‘scrapbook’ this year – I already have a pile of scribbles on my desk and bits pin on my noticeboard so I’m just being more organised! I do have Pinterest but I wish it was a physical thing in my hands (same way I can never really get into ebooks despite having designed a few). I think to marry things together I will occasionally scan pages from my book and post them here. I’m a big fan of all things Moleskine but also wish Scoutbooks were sold in the UK – I could always make my own too – one of my books for Christmas was the incredible 500 Handmade Books – so watch this space!

Making resolutions #1

I think I read 2 books in 2013 making it the worst year for
reading. When I made a daily commute to Liverpool I had a 40 minute
train journey and read a book every week (with a few exceptions –
the last Harry Potter took ages). So with another pile arriving at
Christmas my first New Year’s resolution is to make time to read –
think this will have to be done by sacrificing some telly so I hope
the BBC will play ball!

Checking my bees

It’s always a relief to see my bees flying in the spring – they’re pretty inactive over the winter, spending most of their time in a cluster keeping warm. Today the sun was out and so were the bees – this colony is a Buckfast queen and surprisingly large for the time of year – fingers crossed for a good honey year and a healthy colony. Bzzzzzz!

Listening to Spector

At some point in the dim and distant past I must have signed up for a newsletter from Universal Music, so occasionally I get asked to complete surveys about my listening behaviour. It hasn’t changed much in the last few years – LastFM via my Squeezebox, Vinyl and CD through my Rega 25 and Arcams and downloads on my iPhone.

Universal rewarded me this month with a free download of Spector’s ‘Grey Shirt & Tie’. It’s now a rather nice earworm.

Spector are going to big in 2012 – The Guardian has them as a Critic’s Pop Pick and the BBC have them as the Sound of 2012. I’m predicting that there will be a craze for wearing glasses after frontman Fred Macpherson has made them cool, despite the obvious Buddy Holly comparisons.

Going back to work

With Christmas and New Year falling on a Sunday in 2011 it’s meant that I’m not sat at my desk since Friday 23rd December. It was hard work waking up early and despite my usual routine of a quick coffee before booting up the MacBook, it did take a while to get into a work groove thing. It didn’t help being distracted by Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield on BBC radio 4Extra, a book I realise I have never actually read, nor that I can remember seeing on the telly. The last adaptation was done in 1999, a lavish £4 million drama with the lovely Bob Hoskins and a young Daniel Radcliffe.

Making Pizzas for 13 people

Our New Year’s Eve tradition is to have a meal with our hosts friends and watch Jules Holland’s Hootenanny on BBC2. Not thinking what was actually involved I suggested making pizzas – I’d make the dough bases and let everyone create their own toppings. I soon realised that would mean making 13 bases which equated to 3kg of dough! Fortunately our friends have a big kitchen and a newly installed Corian work surface which turned out to be perfect for kneading dough on – wish I had the same space at home!