December 2012 Archives

New Website Design Launched

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Hello, visitors. Happy New Year's Eve. You may have noticed the new website design for was launched at the weekend. There's still a few bits and pieces that will be sorted out in due time, but it's best to get it up and running, and I am pretty happy with my new design. Of course, there's a few areas that my perfectionist mind wants to work on. 

(Overall, the transition would be a much smoother one if this was my full-time job, but it isn't, and I've fallen into the trap that many web developers and agencies fall into with their personal websites: keeping them up-to-date.) 


The new website is responsive, so there's no need to scroll left-to-right on mobiles or tablets anymore. The website also uses HTML5 (to some extent) and CSS3. I've also prettied up the URLs, and I will be doing some work on the portfolio content in the coming days. In addition, I have another task to change the template of my blog to fit the site design, and that is best left as a project on its own.

There's a few issues on IE7 to fix, and I am not officially supporting IE6 anymore, so I need to do a few bits and pieces with this, and I also need to design some nice error pages.

I hope you enjoy the new design as much as I have building it.

Wintery Windsor

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In December, the bloke and I had a day out in Windsor. The day did not get above freezing, and the fog lingered throughout the day, rising only slightly around sunset. I had a browse around the city, had a stroll along the river, walked to the college in Eton and back again, browsed the small Christmas market, and watched the changing of the royal guards outside of Windsor castle. In the evening, we went to a pantomime. I took photographs around Windsor.

The Royal Guards march toward Windsor castle.

Royal guards marching toward the castle

A postage stamp machine in Windsor

Strolling along the river in Windsor, I discovered many geese and swans

Frost covers this tree

A wintery Windsor castle

A view of Windsor castle from "The Long Walk"

"The Long Walk" at sunset

Happy Holidays and Season's Greetings

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I hope that everyone is having a great day today and that everyone's holidays and New Year celebrations are full of friends, family, and happiness. I wish "Season's Greetings" to all of my visitors, and I hope that you all have the best 2013. I hope 2013 is better than 2012 was for you. Now, enjoy a virtual cupcake. *smile*

All the best,


Hyde Park Winter Wonderland

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Hyde Park Winter Wonderland in London is filled with food stalls, a Christmas market, ice skating, and rides/games. It is a little too busy, in my opinion, and the prices are outrageous. It's still good to visit, however; I would not have gone this year if it were not for visitors. In fact, I feel that Hyde Park Winter Wonderland gets busier each year. The photos below are from the attraction last year.



This year, it seems that Hyde Park Winter Wonderland has gotten twice as big and twice as busy. There are more rides, games, and the Christmas market is throughout the park (instead of at just the Hyde Park Corner end). There's more games as well, and this year features ice sculptures and a larger wheel. I felt that Hyde Park Winter Wonderland was too busy to enjoy this year. Also, the ice sculptures and others are booked out in advance, and turning up in the morning is not enough. I am hoping that they get it right next year and make the area larger. 

'Lego' Street Art by Jaye Moon

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Jaye Moon, Brooklyn-based artist, is interested in architectural artwork, and she uses 'Lego' blocks and plexiglass to create her artwork. Her plexiglass items (suitcases, drawers, lunch boxes) contain living space inside and are primarily constructed in white plexiglass material but use colour. Jaye Moon also creates artwork in the shapes of miniature buildings out of multi-coloured 'Lego' blocks around tree branches in New York City.

The above image is copyright by Jaye Moon.

When asked why she works with 'Lego', Jaye believes that this medium lends itself well for mobile works of art and architecture (1). She goes on to state: "As soon as people pass by my work, they seem to feel connected with my projects, because they are made out of Legos. Toys are innocent and bring people nostalgia and childhood memories" (1).

Reactions to her work include changes to the artwork, including new or missing 'Lego' blocks or changes to the artwork. This makes the artwork belong to the public and provides an interaction that the public have with the artwork. 

The idea of colourful, plastic 'Lego' blocks combined with nature is quite striking. I love this idea because I like 'Lego', and seeing these on the street would make me smile and also make me want to interact with the artwork.

The above image is copyright Jaime Rojo.

1) Street Art NYC. Jaye Moon Brings Her Vision to NYC Streets with Legos and Plexiglass. [4 April, 2012].

More Delicious Chocolate Packaging

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The London department store Liberty has designed some nice packaging for their chocolate bars. I've photographed a few of these bars. There are two sizes - a full-size bar and a smaller size, which comes in a pack of three. The bars are brightly-coloured and depict the famous department store's timber facade. The packaging also contains brightly-coloured glitter. Various photographs of the packaging are below.




This year has been popular for UK-themed packaging for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee  and the Olympic games. The chocolate company Prestat designed Diamond Jubilee themed packaging and flavours. I've snapped a couple of the bars below. 

Each bar contains an image of the UK flag in the background with a different shade to distinguish between the different types of chocolate bars. There were more flavours, but I bought the "dark chocolate and raspberry" and "roasted almonds, sea salt and milk chocolate".



Another chocolate manufacturer to cash in on the Diamond Jubilee packaging is Monzuma. (This is probably my favourite chocolate, and the chilli and dark chocolate is divine.) Monzuma developed British themes and included the flag imagery in their packaging, and they have developed British flavours, such as "Eton Mess" and "Apple Crumble". 

Liberty department store's chocolate shop display


Hotel Chocolat, another chocolate company, have created "eggs and soldiers" and "eggs and chips" for the past two Easters, at least. I love the fried egg, which is made with white chocolate. (I've included photographs below.)


Hotel Chocolat white chocolate that looks like a 'fried egg'

Recently, I visited South Bank's Chocolate Festival and got a glimpse of some really nice chocolate packaging from many different chocolate suppliers. I couldn't photograph all of them, but I got a good sampling.

Rocco Chocolates,, has many different types of vintage-inspired chocolate packaging. I loved the boxes with the hand-drawn pets on them, and I also loved the chocolate cats. (First photograph below taken by me, but the other photographs were taken from the Rocco Chocolate website's online shop.)

Rocco Chocolates

Another chocolatier I loved the packaging of was ChocStars. This company use images of celebrities as animal personas. (I know that Paperchase currently sells these images on postcards.)

ChocStars package designs (

Chocome ( is another chocolatier, and the packaging presentation is mainly focused on the product itself. The chocolate is made to look delicious.


Chocolat à Casser creates slabs of chocolate in a wooden box, and these slabs come with a wooden hammer to break the chocolate. The packaging and the chocolate looks beautiful, and I love this idea. Who hasn't bought a large slab of chocolate and struggled with breaking it up?

Chocolat à Casser's large chocolate slabs in a wooden box

If you have seen any nice chocolate packaging, let me know.

Leadenhall Market Dressed for the Holidays

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I was working in London last Christmas, and Leadenhall Market was one of the areas I visited regularly during my lunch break. (Often, I would pass through the market on my way to another location, and I had seen a couple of famous people signing books at the Waterstones book store here.) I always admired the decorations in the market, and I took a few photographs of the market and its decorations during my lunch break. I miss seeing Leadenhall Market and have not been back this Christmas.

Christmas lights and Christmas trees line the market hall.

A wreath is located at the southern entrance of Leadenhall Market 

Leadenhall Market Christmas tree

Leadenhall Market Christmas tree and City workers having a drink at lunch.

Lego Advent Calendar in Covent Garden

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For those who are looking for something to do this weekend, make your way to Covent Garden to check out the giant Lego advent calendar. The advent calendar is made of over 600,000 Lego bricks, and each afternoon at 4:00pm, the day's window is opened to reveal what lies behind it. The items behind each window are also made out of Lego bricks, and so far, we have the following items behind the doors:

- snowman
- Christmas cake
- reindeer
- birds
- bell
- bauble
- stocking
- snowflake
- candles

The Lego advent calendar was gathering some love and attention from a small crowd when I went to visit the other weekend in Covent Garden, but I was able to get a few photographs of it and some detail on the items behind the opened windows.

Covent Garden Lego Advent Calendar

Covent Garden Lego Advent Calendar snowflake

Lego is one of my favourites; I loved playing with this when I was a child. It's creative, and the company creatively come up with new ideas and games. I am happy to write a post about it. Let me know if you have seen the Lego advent calendar and what you think of it. 
London's Christmas lights and window displays are out for 2012, and I've photographed some windows displays and the new Christmas lights for this year. Some of the displays have been outstanding with new Christmas lights and sponsors (Marmite and Lego) setting up Christmas themes. Below are a few photographs of London 2012 at Christmas.

Marks and Spencer's Christmas lights on its Oxford Street branch are new this year, and I prefer this new design.

Selfridges' window display has been interesting this year. The displays at Selfridges feature robotic moving parts, such as hands and cogs to form a Willy Wonka-esque window display. The main window on the corner displays a train set with brightly-coloured sweets on the floor to add colour. Robotic items feature the products.

Once again, the window frames were decorated with pine branches.

Selfridges' window display

Selfridges' window display

A Buckingham Palace gingerbread house. You can also buy a large gingerbread house that looks like Selfridges.

The other large department stores on Oxford Street were similarly decorated with snowflakes and brightly-coloured lights: John Lewis, Debenhams, and House of Fraser.

House of Fraser

John Lewis window display

This year, Regent Street features Christmas lights with the "Twelve Days of Christmas" theme. 

Regent Street Christmas lights

Regent Street Christmas lights

The Seven Dials area of London has the same Christmas lights as last year, featuring multi-coloured tubes of light. These are located throughout the Seven Dials area, bordering Covent Garden.

Seven Dials area Christmas lights

One of the most creative Christmas decorations this year were at Carnaby Street. The Christmas lights reflect its rock 'n' roll roots theme as this was a trendy shopping area in the 1960s and 1970s. The Christmas decorations feature vinyl records and the iconic Rolling Stones lips with a Christmas message.

Christmas on Carnaby Street

On Ganton Street near Carnaby Street, the iconic giant 'plug' has had a makeover to keep in line with the Christmas decorations.

Next to Carnaby Street, the Liberty department store is decorated.

Covent Garden in London is also bustling with Christmas decorations. This year, the decorations are giant red baubles and a massive red and blue Christmas tree. (As of the first of December, a giant advent calendar made of Lego bricks was on display, and the windows are opened daily to reveal a Christmas-related Lego object.)

Covent Garden Christmas decorations

Covent Garden Christmas candy cane decorations.

Covent Garden Christmas tree.

Mayfair is also bustling with Christmas decorations, and many of the shop fronts are framed with pine and festive branches.

Shops on New Bond Street are decorated.

South Molton Street Christmas arches

Purple baubles in Mayfair

I hope that you have enjoyed seeing the Christmas lights and window displays in London this year.

South Bank's Winter and Chocolate Festival

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It's the Winter Festival at South Bank in London, and there's a Christmas Market along the river on South Bank (near Festival Pier). A Chocolate Festival also took place at the weekend, and I sampled a few different chocolates. I went to South Bank to get some photographs of the holiday celebrations and to see what else was going on at South Bank.

The Chocolate Festival vendors sold baked goods as well as chocolate. I loved the Christmas chocolate selections, and I tried a few different samples of chocolates. I also bought a chocolate brownie from Paul A. Young, and this tasted amazing.

Christmas baked goods at the Chocolate Festival: gingerbread men and Christmas cupcakes

Chocolate brownies by Paul A. Young.

Massive cookies on display at the Chocolate Festival.

After checking out the Chocolate Festival, I went to check out the Christmas Market. On my way, I spotted to Christmas trees. Southbank Centre have two Christmas trees on display. Visitors to the area can hop on the pedal bike carousels around the trees to have a go at cycling. Cycling will light up the trees. Visitors can use the pedal bikes or the hand-pedals to light up the trees. 

The pedal-powered Christmas trees.

South Bank's Christmas Market is on from late November until the end of December, and visitors can buy a range of gift items, clothes, jewellery, and food. There's also games and plenty for everyone. The Christmas Market runs from Hungerford Bridge past Festival Pier on the South Bank. I visited in the morning, and the market was relatively quiet until later in the morning.

Views of the Christmas Market from Hungerford Bridge.

Cheese is available to buy.

The wooden market stands for the Christmas Market and Big Ben in the background.
MAD Beauty is a cosmetic and beauty company that sells unique beauty gift products. I have discovered a range of beauty gift products that offer wonderful packaging. I love the packaging of these items. You can view the MAD beauty website by visiting:

"Toast and Jam" is a jammy-scented body wash complete with a sponge shaped like a piece of toast. Yum.
Various Russian doll and cocktail-inspired lip gloss, mince pie lip gloss, and white chocolate bar soap would look wonderful in my handbag and on my bath.

Winchester Christmas Market

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A few weekends ago, I visited the annual Christmas market in Winchester. The Christmas market isn't as large as Bath's, but there are still many shops to see, and it also has an ice skating rink. All of the stalls are located in the cathedral grounds. The day I visited was rainy, but this did not stop the crowds. The market was still busy, despite the poor weather.

In addition to roasted chestnuts and mulled wine, visitors to the market could try their balance on roller skates and buy crafts, local food items, jewellery, toys, clothing, and much more. They could also listen to singers singing carols and the visit the cathedral.

After visiting the Christmas market, I walked around Winchester to look at the Christmas lights and went into a few shops. I posted some photographs of Winchester below.  

Christmas market stalls in front of Winchester cathedral.

Roasted chestnuts for sale at Winchester Christmas market.

Winchester Christmas market and the crowds

A Christmas ornament for sale at the Winchester Christmas market.

Winchester's Christmas decorations

Winchester cathedral

Using CSS @Font-Face for Custom Fonts

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For my new website design, I wanted to use a custom font for headings and navigation. Gone are the days when developers had to use web-safe fonts for their websites. With various different Javascript libraries readily available, specialised services that serve fonts through the web (such as Typekit), and the addition of the @font-face attribute in CSS3, designers and developers are encouraged to play with new fonts in their websites. And, having a complimentary font does make a world of difference.

My views on using non-safe web fonts are to encourage designers to use them in their applications because it does make the website look nicer visually, and this impacts the users positively (subconsciously). However, developers should never use a non-safe web font to replace a web-safe font for the body text. Headers and navigation areas are fine in moderation, and the developer should have a fallback method for older browsers.


Unique web fonts are increasingly popular, and I think most designers and front-end developers agree that this is a great way to make your website stand out. After all, typography is a highly important element in visual design.

For my vintage-inspired new website design, I decided to use the font "Goudy Bookletter 1911", which is in the public domain. In order to use the CSS @font-face attribute, you need to have different files available for different browsers. Luckily, we have a website that converts a font to the different styles, and you can convert your font files here:

Many fonts have use and copyright restrictions, so it is important that you make sure that you have permission to use the font in this way. Also, please note that you should always test your website in different browsers with the loaded font (and fall-back font in case there was an issue loading the font) to ensure that the fonts look nice and have generated properly into the respective file types. You can use the quick guide below to see which font file types are loaded in different browsers.

  • EOT - Internet Explorer
  • OTF - Mozilla, Safari, and Opera
  • TTF - Mozilla, Safari, Opera, and Chrome
  • SVG - Safari, Opera, and Chrome

I will now demonstrate how to use the CSS @font-face method. The first step is to convert your font to the various font types (as mentioned above). Obviously, make sure that you follow the copyright restrictions. Once the font file has been converted, simply create your CSS with the @font-face method as below, and make sure that this is near the top of the CSS file. Be sure to name the font-family attribute accordingly, because this will be used in the CSS file to reference the font.

@font-face {
  font-family: "Goudy Bookletter 1911";
  src: url("type/goudybookletter1911.eot");
  src: local("☺"),
    url("type/goudybookletter1911.woff") format("woff"),
    url("type/goudybookletter1911.otf") format("opentype"),
    url("type/goudybookletter1911.svg#filename") format("svg");

The next step is to identify which HTML tags you wish to use the new font on, use it and set a fallback web-safe font. In the below example, I decided to use the font-family (defined above) for the H1, H2, and H3 tags. Make sure that this CSS is defined after the @font-face (in the CSS file) so that the fonts are loaded first.

h1, h2, h3{
font-family:"Goudy Bookletter 1911", Times New Roman, serif;

Using @font-face is not the only way that a developer can add new fonts to their websites. Font services, such as Typekit and Google Web Fonts allow the developer to obtain their font via Javascript and load it on their websites without the need to convert and place the font on their web server. In my new website design, I am using Google Web Font to obtain fonts to use on my website. This is simple to do. 

First, the developer should browse to look for acceptable fonts to use at (Google Web Fonts does not have every font available, but they have quite a selection. Additional web font services may have a specific font that you are looking for, and Adobe Typekit, which owns the license to many fonts, may be a good place to start if you are looking for a particular font.)  

Once the font has been found, the developer simply should add a line of code to link to the font(s) in Google Web Fonts. In the example below, I have added three fonts: Goudy Bookletter 1911, Quicksand, and Mate SC.
<link href='|Quicksand|Mate+SC' rel='stylesheet' type='text/css'>

After referencing the above near the top of your HTML file, simply load your CSS like the example above with the H1, H2, and H3 HTML tags.

This is all you need to know in order to begin using the @font-face CSS3 method or to start using different fonts on your websites. Keep in mind to use different fonts sparingly and don't forget to add a fallback option.

Introducing HTML5 Boilerplate

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For the past few web projects, I have used the HTML5 Boilerplate ( to set up the basic structure of my web pages. Using the HTML5 Boilerplate allows developers to build onto the framework with little effort while maintaining the standards set aside by the developer community, all of whom contribute to HTML5 Boilerplate. Developers can then customise and build upon this framework; this framework gives the developer this flexibility to customise and to make their website responsive and HTML5-ready.

I'll explain a little of each area that the HTML5 Boilerplate framework offers, allowing the developer to customise and build upon.

Overall Structure
The HTML5 Boilerplate presents a structure for the developer to place various artefacts, such as images, Javascript, and CSS. It also includes various holder pages and files for sitemaps and 404 pages.

The HTML5 Boilerplate comes with a favicon and Apple touch device images, all of which should be replaced by the developer to reflect the current web project.

htaccess File
For your Apache server, learn some tricks and other useful bits and pieces to enable security, performance, and redirects. (Setting up redirects should be a good place to start if you're completing a page redesign and you need to add some new rewriteRules and change some paths without impacting your SEO.)

The HTML5 Boilerplate template includes the latest minimised version of jQuery and Modernizr to create responsive HTML5-ready websites. The notes within the mark-up explain best practices, such as loading Javascript at the bottom of the page, using CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) where possible, and combining and minimising your Javascript files. (Developers should try to separate global Javascript from Javascript that appears only on one page.)

This framework comes with some basic Google analytics SEO, and depending on the organisation, the developer can swap this and add Omniture and other tracking. (In one company, this was quite a large section that we needed to add to the template in order to suit our needs, which can be done very easily once the framework is in place.) 

HTML5 Boilerplate comes with the normalise.css file and other common CSS classes that help get the website ready for HTML5. Included are the print templates (print.css), common CSS classes, and media queries (to build responsive websites). Then, it is up to the developer to add specific CSS based on the visual designs and grid layouts. (Developers should organise their CSS in meaningful ways, such as a separate CSS file that focused on the layout and one that focuses on page-specific content.)

And, that's it! The HTML5 Boilerplate provides the basic framework that is flexible enough to customise to suit the needs of the website and to build upon. The developer can simply add additional Javascript libraries, markup for SEO, and CSS based on the visual designs and a responsive grid layout. HTML5 Boilerplate can combine additional bits of framework (such as a responsive grid layout).

If the visual design is not an area of concern for your web project or you generally do not care what the website looks like, then I suggest combining HTML5 Boilerplate with Twitter Bootstrap ( However, if you are anything at all like me and the visual design (and concise mark-up is important) or if you're generally getting sick of looking at so many websites that look like Twitter Bootstrap, it is easy to create and build your own CSS. (The normalise.css and other CSS elements offered as a part of the HTML5 Boilerplate framework minimise issues in older browsers and in Internet Explorer.)

I will probably be adding some more HTML5 Boilerplate articles in the future, once I get around to writing them.

Have you used HTML5 Boilerplate for a project? How did it go? Add a comment and let me know.
Marmite, the spreadable vegetable-based product with Australian origins, is lighting up Oxford Street in London this year with its "You either love it or hate it" campaign. Many large 'Marmite Gold' branded Christmas light banners can be seen up and down London's famous street amongst other various Christmas themed banners. 

The lights at the famous Oxford Circus junction show a jar of Marmite being stampeded by reindeer.

A part of the campaign involves using social media and the public. (Rob Messeter and Mike Crowe of DDB helped create the idea by wanting to allow characters to 'love or hate' the product and to have their moment of fame. (1).) 

Photographs can be uploaded via the Marmite Facebook application in the 'Love' or 'Hate' category. These photographs are then uploaded onto various banners dotted up and down Oxford Street. The Christmas light banners include the words "Merry Christmas from Marmite" with the company's brand phrase 'you either love it or hate it' with a picture of a member of the public shown inside the lights (with a Christmas hat). The banner alternates with one informing how to get your picture displayed, and this points to Facebook.

A Marmite banner showing a user's photograph.

1. Gosling, Emily. Design Week. Designing Oxford Street's Christmas Lights. [9 November 2012].


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