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I left Edinburgh with the family last Friday, on our first campervan trip of the year—something we always do over the Easter holidays.

Unusually, instead of checking my inbox two or three times a day, I decided to try and abstain completely from email. Even with so much going on work-wise, a week into the trip I'm pleasantly surprised to still be on the wagon. (Thanks in no small part to two wonderfully remote campsites void of any mobile signal).

It only struck me yesterday that this is the longest period since my daughter came into the world ten years ago that I've gone without reading—and reacting to—an email. Goodness knows how we developed such guilt for making ourselves unavailable.

So if you've sent me an email this last week I'm sorry for not being in the least bit sorry for not immediately responding. Here are a few pics of our travels around the wilds of western Scotland to tide you over.

Think now, design later

I've been slowing leafing my way through The Advertising Concept Book over the last few weeks, after spying it in Krakow's Museum of Contemporary Art.

Written by ad veteran Pete Barry, its principal audience is students studying advertising, but the way it deconstructs the process creative teams in agencies use to develop a message and get it across is worthwhile reading for anyone trying to communicate better. His "think now, design later" mantra is all about building a concept and message before you get anywhere near a design or media plan; a great idea will increase the value of both but neither will improve a poor idea.

The book itself upholds this message visually, opting for sketched roughs instead of the finished, glossy artwork of the well-known ads it pulls apart. It's a really lovely thing.

My work for this year's EIE event kicked off this week, and I'm again finding myself telling the pitching companies to think of each slide in their deck as an advertising billboard; a single, memorable message communicated in the blink of an eye. I think I may be taking that idea a little more literally this year.

Back to school

I tend not to promote myself as a photographer for hire but if asked to take on an assignment I'll more than likely jump at the chance. So when the Edinburgh Steiner School asked me to work on a library of photos as an extension of the branding project, I did just that.

Despite knowing the school well, being involved in some of the wild and wonderful things they get up to has been a real treat. Here's a selection of my favourites, which I think (and hope) communicate what makes the place so special.

Reflections and Echoes

I managed to sneak an Amazon Echo into the house in January, by pretending it was merely making a brief stop on its way to my office. I wasn't entirely sure why I'd lusted after it so, but justified the expense as a relatively cheap way of being able to listen to Spotify in the kitchen, and replace our ten-year-old bacteria-harbouring DAB radio.

After an initial period of six weeks or so when she wouldn't talk to the thing—preferring instead to revert to the manky radio—Mrs. Tree eventually gave in. She now speaks to it often, albeit in the manner she might when scolding a disobedient dog.

Ten-year-old Miss Tree on the other hand spent the Echo's first two days in our home repeating the words "Alexa: tell me a joke", stopping only when the replies began repeating themselves. She asked "Alexa: what's a penis?" only once (you would too if you heard the answer) before her primary interaction with the device became "Alexa: play Shout Out To My Ex by Little Mix" whenever I'm listening to something interesting on Radio 4.

The man of the house (that's me, for the avoidance of doubt) was an eager user from the get-go, setting timers while cooking, asking whether I needed to take my umbrella to work, converting measurements from imperial to metric, and so on. I even hooked up my espresso machine with a WeMo Switch so I could command it on and off from a great distance of ten feet or more. I have been astounded by its ability to interpret what's being said; without exception it understood my entire and extensive repertoire of British dialects (while Siri still struggles with my normal accent).

Two months later, all the objections and novelty have passed by and it's become just a radio we command by voice—and not a very good one. I've found it prone on occasion to buffering awkwardly (the the most awkward being that time at 3am it decided to reconnect to a TuneIn stream, making us think we had intruders). And for £150 the sound quality could be better.

So I think I may find its way to my office after all, although what it'll do when it gets there I have no idea. Perhaps it's really destined for eBay.

Kings Of Ceiling

As promised this time last week. The eBay purchase turned out to be a print of a Kings Of Leon photograph, who shall forevermore survey my office from above.

I suspect there's a very fundable art project in purchasing items from eBay based purely on their physical dimensions but sadly I am far too busy with work to consider such pursuits. (This is also my excuse for a lack of more considered blog posts this week and last. Back to normal soon, I promise.)