Christmas cards 2013...

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GINgle Bells (2019)

[Glasses of sloe gin with rhyme]

Having made an extra large batch of sloe gin this year, I devoted this card to a celebration of the drink with a rhyme based (loosely) on the chorus of the song "Jingle Bells". A certain degree of artistic licence applies to the background - blackthorn flowers and fruits would never be seen together like this in real life. In fact the photos were taken in, respectively, March 2011 and September 2017. And the dancing glasses derive from an even older photo, taken in September 2005 for the "Dream" image on my sloe gin recipe page.

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Chrexit (2018)

[Dialogue box on laptop screen]

Ever since we gave our elected politicians a proper job to do in 2016, i.e. take Britain out of the European Union ("Brexit"), I've been waiting for a chance to lampoon their tragicomic performance. So, lacking any festivities to participate in this Christmas, I duly put pen to paper - or rather, finger to keyboard. I'm no good at cartoons, but I like to think I can design a decent dialogue box; I derived unusual pleasure from coding this one.

It's a real, functional program (although nothing happens when you press the exit buttons - maybe I'll complete the project one day!). Originally I meant to put more on the screen, but it was barely legible in a VGA image so I made do with this larger-than-life window, overlaid on my reflection in what was actually a blank screen (computer turned off). The snowy garden photo was taken in February, 2009.

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[Berries and anagram of greeting]

Spot the Bug! (2017)

Some years ago, a wild asparagus plant appeared in my garden; it now produces a mass of feathery growth each summer. On a very humid day in September, I took some photos of the [poisonous] berries, noting that they looked quite Christmassy. Then came the idea of "borrowing" some letters from a traditional greeting to make the caption. I was going to present this in the style of a cryptic crossword clue (one recipient expertly did so in a reply card!) but decided the letter-rack arrangement would be better understood.

Where's the bug? Let's just say I needed 3 letters for the bottom row that weren't in the greeting. And yes, I know I've cheated by adding an extra Y to the set!

[Xmas tree with empty glass]

Strictly Legless (2017)

While sorting through a bag of my late Mum's Christmas stuff, I found this tree with a selection of attachments. The pair of legs turned up first, and I couldn't work out what it was... until I found the upper portion of the lady further down the bag.

This card only went out by email, as the inspiration came too late for posting.

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Christmas 1963 (2016)

[Family photo with Christmas tree]

This year ended on a sad note for me, as my Mum died in September. Looking back through several hundred photos from bygone years, I chose this family group to use as a card. It was taken in 1963 by my late Dad's new camera (an Agfa Super Silette with Agfacolor reversal film). I think he looks amazingly relaxed, given that the "delayed action release" gave him only 7 seconds to get into position.

The flashgun was a Prinz (Dixons) Miniflash, which used a 15V battery to ignite the scrunched-up strip of magnesium in each disposable bulb...

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Step This Way (2015)

[Snow scene with white poppy]

Every year in early November, many Brits wear a red poppy to commemorate those who died fighting in wars on behalf of Britain. I prefer to sport a white poppy, as supplied by the Peace Pledge Union, in remembrance of all who died in, or as a result of, those wars; innocent civilians on all "sides", as well as the various combatants. The underlying message of the footsteps in the snow is that we must try harder to move towards peace.

The texture of the poppy fabric was melded with the snow by choosing Corel's "multiply" option to combine it with the background (Cranham Brickfields again).

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Rochester Robin (2014)

[Robin in patriotic style]

For those baffled by this, recall if you will the Labour MP who "tweeted" a photo of a suburban house, draped with English (St George cross) flags and with a white van parked outside, captioned "Image from Rochester". I guess you have to be English to understand how this could make the headlines - and cause said MP to resign from the shadow cabinet. I just thought I'd capture the moment by poking fun at "White Van Robin", a species of bird to which an aggressive, territorial attitude is second nature!

The hardest part was the background. It's based on an outline map of France (and southern Britain), with perspective distortion applied to match the stance of the robin. The latter was actually foraging for crumbs in a park in Southend.

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Brunch (2013)

"Frozen food is available from selected branches"

[Fox eying squirrel in snow]

I spent a day in January 2013 taking photos of the snow-covered countryside around where I live, 4 of which are incorporated in this card. The background scene is part of Cranham Brickfields - the tree branches haven't been altered, they really do cross like that! The squirrel was shot (if only...) sitting on a similar branch nearby, whilst the fox is a composite of two pics taken in my own garden. Specifications for both animals, from a book on British Wildlife, served as a guide to scaling them.

[Itchy fox]

As you can see, the star of the show also seems to be volunteering for employment as a fireside rug.

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