Category Archives: Photographs

A Year of Food and Selfies

I’ve never been very good at keeping a journal, but over the last few years I’ve enjoyed doing a little something different to record the year in some way. In 2014 I did a word-a-day journal, in 2016 I did views from my bedroom window on the last Sunday of every month, and…wait, what happened to 2015? Didn’t I do something like that in 2015? I guess not.

Well 2017 might have been a very poor blogging year for me;  I haven’t blogged since April (eek!), but I did maintain something over the year to present on here now. On the first of every month I took a selfie pic, and also wrote down everything I ate and drank that day. I know that might seem very random, and it is. There’s no particular reason for it, it just came to me as something to do.

Here are the results:

On 1 January 2017, I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman

…and I consumed this:

BREAKFAST: Bran flakes
LUNCH: Nothing
DINNER: Spaghetti with a sauce made from prawns, chorizo, tomatoes and garlic.
SNACKS: Dried banana and pineapple, left over Christmas chocs
DRINKS: Tea, coffee, water, Prosecco

On 1 February 2017 I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman

…and I consumed this:

BREAKFAST: Toasted bagel with cream cheese
LUNCH: Crayfish and rocket leaf sandwich
DINNER: Baked pesto chicken, with broccoli
SNACKS: Dried pineapple, Berry flavour Trek Bar, bowl of cornflakes, Cadbury’s creme egg.
DRINKS: Tea, coffee, water, tequila

On 1 March 2017 I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman

…and I consumed this:

BREAKFAST: Croissant
LUNCH: Chicken noodle soup, with rye bread
DINNER: Chicken, chorizo and vegetable soup
SNACKS: Salted caramel and peanut protein bar, popcorn, grapes
DRINKS: Tea, coffee, water, beer

On 1 April 2017 I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman and Neil Aplin

…and I consumed this:

LUNCH: Baked chicken thighs, baked potato, salad, coleslaw. Ice cream with fresh strawberries and chocolate chip cookies
DINNER: Nothing
SNACKS: Popcorn, apple
DRINKS: Tea, coffee, water, red wine

On 1 May 2017 I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman

…and I consumed this:

BREAKFAST: Waffles with sliced banana, shredded coconut and whipped cream
LUNCH: Nothing
DINNER: Chicken wonton soup
SNACKS: Carrot sticks, almonds
DRINKS: Tea, coffee, water, beer

On 1 June 2017 I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman

…and I consumed this:

BREAKFAST: Soft boiled eggs, toast, an orange
LUNCH: Roast pork, roast potatoes, yorkshire pudding, carrots, green beans, gravy
DINNER: Nothing
SNACKS: Olives
DRINKS: Tea, coffee, water, beer

On 1 July 2017 I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman

…and I consumed this:

LUNCH: Bubble tea (well starch bubbles are food, right?)
DINNER: Roast pork belly, roast potatoes, greens, broad beans, onion gravy.
SNACKS: Nothing
DRINKS: Tea, coffee, water, sparkling lemon and lime drink, gin & tonic

On 1 August 2017 I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman

…and I consumed this:

LUNCH: Chicken and salad sandwich
DINNER: Purition pistachio protein shake
DRINKS: Tea, water, beer

On 1 September 2017 I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman

…and I consumed this:

BREAKFAST: Fried egg and tomato sandwich
LUNCH: Nothing
DINNER: Grilled halloumi and salad wrap
SNACKS: Prunes, quinoa chips
DRINKS: Tea, coffee, water, beer

On 1 October 2017 I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman

…and I consumed this:

BREAKFAST: Cold pizza
LUNCH: Pad Thai, prawn tempura
DINNER: Black bean noodle salad
SNACKS: pear, avocado
DRINKS: Tea, coffee, water, pink cava

On 1 November 2017 I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman

LUNCH: Quinoa salad
DINNER: Spicy chicken wings and salad
SNACKS: Left over Halloween candy
DRINKS: Tea, coffee, water, martini

On 1 December 2017 I looked like this…

Vanessa Chapman

…and I consumed this:

BREAKFAST: Bacon and brie panini
LUNCH: Tuna melt panini
DINNER: Asian spicy chicken and Chinese vegetable noodle soup
SNACKS: Little oranges
DRINKS: Tea, coffee, water, beer

And there you have it, a glimpse into my year through food and selfies. I will admit that two of the photos are a couple of days out of being taken on the first (simply because I forgot to take them on the first), but literally only a couple of days out, so close enough. The food and drink is all totally accurate for those dates. I found it particularly interesting looking back on what I’d eaten and drunk. I was surprised that alcohol featured on each of the twelve, I did consider removing a few of those before posting, but hey, if I’m not going to be honest with it then there’s little point in doing it.

I feel so out of touch with the blogging world, this is the longest I haven’t blogged since I started. Hopefully doing this will kick me back into it. So, what’ya all been up to then?



Last Sunday of the Month – Views from my Bedroom Window

Well this post hasn’t turned out to be half as interesting as I’d hoped it would be when I planned it a year ago, but seeing as I did spend the whole year doing it, I’m jolly well going to post it! I give you a year of views from my bedroom window on the last Sunday of every month, for no particular reason (there are really only changes in light and foliage, not sure what I expected really). Anyway, I didn’t blog much in 2016 but I’m definitely planning to step it up again this year, and I’m certainly off to a great…a good…an average…well a start anyway…

View over fields, January 2016

Last Sunday in January 2016

View over fields, February 2016

Last Sunday in February 2016

View over fields, March 2016

Last Sunday in March 2016

View over fields, April 2016

Last Sunday in April 2016

View over fields, May 2016

Last Sunday in May 2016

View over fields, June 2016

Last Sunday in June 2016

View over fields, July 2016

Last Sunday in July 2016

View over fields, August 2016

Last Sunday in August 2016

View over fields, September 2016

Last Sunday in September 2016

View over fields, October 2016

Last Sunday in October 2016

View over fields, November 2016

Last Sunday in November 2016

View over fields, December 2016

Last Sunday in December 2016

Next year – views of my kitchen floor on the third  Tuesday of every month.

It’s The Way I Shell ‘Em

Shell grotto skylight

I don’t think anyone outside of the UK is likely to get the joke in my headline, but never mind, it gave me a chuckle.

We’re returning once again to the list of challenges y’all set me just before Christmas. Today I take on the one set by Sue from Travel Tales of Life. First Sue suggested Flyboarding, she then went on to suggest a polar dip, Via Ferrata, caving, ziplining, stand up paddle boarding or a bobsled ride. Anyone who follows Travel Tales of Life will know that these are all things she has probably done herself, so kudos to Sue for not suggesting something she wouldn’t be willing to do herself (unlike some of the suggestions other people made, ahem, yes, you know who you are).

Sue was clearly thinking “Adrenaline”, I was clearly thinking “Gift shop” – which one of those activities would likely come with a good gift shop? And then I spotted it – caving! Close to where I live is the old seaside town of Margate, and in Margate is the Shell Grotto cave that I’ve been meaning to visit for years, so this was the perfect opportunity. I appreciate this probably isn’t quite what Sue had in mind when she suggested caving, but as far as I’m concerned:

CAVE + ME IN IT = CAVING. It adds up right?

The Shell Grotto is a small but fascinating place. A mere 21 metres long, but with walls covered in a whopping 4.6 million shells; what a feat of shell-sticking! The shell grotto was apparently accidentally discovered in the 1830s by a school boy who fell into it through a hole in the ground while trying to retrieve something. Let’s just pause on that for a minute and imagine – you’re a schoolboy and you fall into this magical shell-covered underground world that nobody knows about – this is the stuff of great adventure stories right?

There are many theories, but nobody actually knows exactly how old the grotto is, or why it was made in the first place. I can understand how they might not have figured out the original purpose yet, but I can’t understand why they haven’t been able to do the dating – I don’t think that’s beyond the scope of modern science. Maybe Jacqueline could come over and help them.

Click on any pics you want to make bigger…

Entrance to grotto

Now don’t tell me this entrance isn’t adrenaline-inducing, look at the steep twisty stairs, and the handrail!

Walking through to shell grotto

No shells yet, but whoa! Scary!

Vanessa in shell grotto

Ooh now we see the pretty shells

Old photo of ladies at grotto

It’s like I’m there with them

Shell grotto altar


Vanessa peeping round shell corner


I’m fairly certain that Sue also suggested that after the activity, I should stroll along the seafront to a charming cafe so that Neil could buy me a beer and some lunch (no need to check, I’m pretty sure that’s what she said).

Vanessa with a beer

Looking at shells is thirsty work!

  Vanessa's lunch

Anyone have any suggestions about why this grotto was created then?

Old grotto poster

27 Years of My Hair

If you’ve felt for a while that there’s been something missing in your life, it could be because you’ve never seen a montage of the wide range of hair styles I’ve had in my adult life. You’ll be pleased to know therefore that I’m here to fill that gap for you today. I give you 27 years of my haircuts, starting in 1987 when I was 17, up to the present day. Long, short, curly, straight, brown, blonde, red, it’s all here…

Have you had a wide range of hair styles in your adult life? Or have you tended to stick to pretty much the same style over the years?

Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanesa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman


Vanessa Chapman



I have a HUGE announcement to make…

…but first, if you haven’t yet entered my contest to win an Amazon gift certificate, the party is still kicking over on my last post for two more days, so join in while there’s still time!

Anyway, now for the announcement. After much deliberation, rumination, constipation and sleepless nights, I have finally made the decision to…

Change my WordPress gravatar photograph!!!

I know, aaaggghhh! Right? Our gravatar pics are how we are recognised around the blogosphere, so changing it is not a decision to be taken lightly, oh no, but there comes a time when it has to be done. Maybe we’ve grown tired of our old pic, maybe it seems out of date because we’ve got older (OBVIOUSLY that’s not the reason I’m changing mine, ha!), maybe we were never really happy with it in the first place. My current gravatar picture is this:

Vanessa current

It’s not that I don’t like that picture anymore, it’s just that I’ve always felt it was a bit too posed and not very friendly looking, it’s like I can’t even be bothered to look directly at you. So I’ve decided to switch to one that is a bit more natural, and hopefully more friendly, and it’s bang up to date having just been taken this past weekend:

Vanessa new gravatar

It’s not as glam as the original, and it’s a bit fuzzy, but I feel it’s more me (not the fuzzy bit, but the less glam and more friendly bit!). I thought I’d better warn you about this impending change so that you didn’t have a shock and think “Who’s this weird chick impersonating Vanessa?!” Now you’ll know that I am the weird chick! I’m going to do the change tomorrow.

There’s a chance I might have SLIGHTLY exaggerated the importance of my announcement in my post heading, but exaggeration is the marketing way you know. A bit like these snacks we bought recently, see how at the bottom they describe themselves as ‘Tiny moments of extraordinary pleasure’ –

SnacksThey were quite tasty, but if I was going to compile a list of the top ten things that give me moments of extraordinary pleasure, these probably wouldn’t appear. Sorry Walkers.

I’m thinking of changing my WordPress theme too, does anyone know if you can preview your blog in different themes without actually making it live each time because I can’t figure it out? EDIT. Don’t worry about this now, I’ve got it!

What things give you moments of extraordinary pleasure? …actually, scrap that, this is a family show!

It’s Tough Being a Professional Photographer at Times!

Girl taking photograph

I bet you didn’t know I was a professional photographer did you? Well I’m not, ha! Had you going there didn’t I? But I do have several friends and acquaintances who are, and it seems they have a tougher time of it than we might imagine. Overall my impression is that they love their job, so we don’t need to feel too sorry for them, however, they do have to put up with a lot of crap from the general public. I like those guys, so I thought I’d help them out here by highlighting some common issues, in the hope that people will stop and think before opening their mouths.

Here is a small selection of the types of things they have to deal with…

They receive compliments – “Wow, your camera takes really good pictures!”
That is seriously insulting. “Wow mister surgeon, your knife does really good operations!” Yes, quality tools are important, but good tools in the wrong hands can have disastrous results; if you don’t believe me, then just ask my kids after I’ve cut their hair using a really good pair of scissors.

They receive helpful advice – “You might want to use a flash, the light isn’t very good here.”
Well thank goodness someone was there to point this out to them! Otherwise they’d have been puzzling for weeks about why their pictures didn’t come out right.

They get given the chance to charge less than they are worth – “My friend’s brother’s cousin has a nice camera and he says he’ll do our wedding for a quarter of the price you’ve quoted. Can you match it?”
Oh yes, absolutely. By the way, I have a really nice hammer, and can install your new kitchen for a fraction of the price you’ve been quoted, are you interested?

They are presented with wonderful opportunities – “Would you take some photos of me/my wedding/my kids/my dog, for free? Then you can use them in your portfolio, so it’s win-win for both of us!”
Photographers are by no means the only professionals who are asked to provide their services for free under the suggestion that it will be good for their portfolio, or that it might open doors to bigger and better things for them; actors have to deal with this a lot, as do graphic/web designers and probably others that I haven’t thought of too. I’m not saying that professionals should never do any work for free; there are occasions where it might be appropriate, but to try and sell the idea to professionals as being some kind of great opportunity for them is, again, insulting.

One of issues with photography is that it is done both professionally, and by most people anyway (even if it’s just an occasional snapshot on their phone), so everyone thinks they know something about it. I was trying to think of what other professions are like that – I came up with chefs, and er…there’s photographers, chefs, and…you know, those other ones that are done both professionally and most people do the thing regularly as well anyway.

I will finish with a couple of questions for you; answer them if you like, or not, I don’t mind!

1. Aside from photographers and chefs, can you think of any other professions that are also something that most people do anyway?

2. Do you work in a profession/job where you have to deal with a lot of annoying things like that from people?


photo credit: Kris Krug via photopin cc

What We Did In Corfu

Corfu Sea picture

If anyone has noticed me missing over the last week or so, it’s because I took the kids away to Sidari in Corfu. What a lovely time we had. Here’s what we did…

We enjoyed the pool at our resort, and the poolside refreshments; Tequila Sunrise anyone?

Vanessa on liloCorfu poolVanessa sipping a tequila sunrise

We battled the crowds on the beach. What do you mean you can’t see any crowds? There are at least three people in this picture, look again…

Sidari beach Corfu

My daughter walked down paths showing off her tan, whilst my son did things that made me say “Ooh be careful!”, “Don’t go any closer!”, “Come away from there right now…just as soon as I’ve taken a photo!” –

Daughter walking down pathSon by splashing wave

We jumped off the back of a boat into the sea and swam in water so clear it looked like a swimming pool. Can you spot me in the water there? Yes, that really is the sea…

Swimming in the Ionian Sea

I posed for photographs in front of water a lot:

Vanessa sitting by the seaVanessa standing on one leg in front of sea

And on the second night we discovered Madison’s Bar on the Sidari Strip, and then went there every night after dinner until about midnight. Great atmosphere there with music quizzes, tribute acts, and regular standing on tables and bar stools clapping and singing along to ‘We Will Rock You’. All pulled together by the fabulous DJ Simon, here he is with my kids:

DJ Simon with my kids at Madisons Bar

Yep, we had a truly wonderful time. The only good thing about coming home was that I had missed my partner Neil very much, so I was really happy to see him again. Next time I think we’ll all go, and maybe just stay there…

My week in pictures

I’m not the world’s greatest photographer, but I do like to try and digitally capture our lives as we go along. I thought I would select a few photos from this, a fairly random week, to show my week in pictures.

So, firstly we baked…

A plate of cupcakesBread and flapjacks

The cupcake decorating was my daughter’s handiwork. The three of us decorated cakes, but hers were the most photogenic. I am solely responsible for the slightly odd bread with the split in the side, hence the strategic placing of it in front of the bread bin in the hope that the word will help identify what it is. In the tub are flapjacks.

On Tuesday I was privileged to have been one of the judges for an art competition at the Turner Contemporary gallery (although not quite as grand as being a judge for the Turner Prize which my friend mistakenly thought I meant when I told her about my judging experience!). As you will no doubt know, Turner was famous for painting sunsets and so it was fitting that I should photograph a sunset from the gallery window on that judging evening…

A sunset across the sea

My daughter photographed her eye. A slightly strange inclusion in this post perhaps, however photography is something she is becoming more and more interested in, so I wanted to include one of her pics from this week. It’s also the only photo in this post taken on a proper camera rather than my phone…

A close up of eye

On Thursday I got to dress up as a welder for the filming of a DVD that I am in. You may think this is a very unglamorous picture, but I’m sure you will change your mind when I tell you that what you can’t see are the high-heeled strappy shoes I was wearing…

Vanessa dressed as a welder

My son’s school football team made it to the final, and Saturday morning was the match. They didn’t win, but it didn’t matter, they were pleased to have made it to the final and it was a good game. Plus they got medals and cookies. My son is in yellow, in the middle of the photo, just left of the ref…

School football game

After a dull and misty morning, it brightened up and I got the barbeque out. Ok, it’s just a little disposable one that I had knocking around from last summer, but it did the job. After eating we made a volcano…

Vanessa cooking on barbequeSon making a volcano

Sunday we took a little trip to the visitor centre at the Hornby trains factory which isn’t too far from us. They also make Scalextric and Corgi cars. The visitor centre is a mini museum with a couple of hands-on sets to try. My son has wanted to go there for a while; my daughter didn’t, so we took the opportunity to go whilst she was at a friend’s…

Son playing on Scalextric set

A pretty good week I would say. How was yours?

Some photographs…

It seems I have been remiss in my goal to do at least one blog per week. So here are some photos of me instead. Taken a few weeks ago by the wonderful Rob Duncan Photography. So in a very self-indulgent way, I give you me…

(The header image at the top of the page is one of Rob’s too).

Vanessa ChapmanVanessa ChapmanVanessa ChapmanVanessa ChapmanVanessa ChapmanVanessa ChapmanVanessa ChapmanVanessa Chapman

Vanessa in coat