Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

New year, new start, new dawn

Having wound up my 365 photo blog project last week, I have decided I really need to resurrect ‘Much of a Muchness’. I also thought that as I would like it be a combination of photoblog and general waffle, I needed a new layout too. This one enables me to post much wider images than the old theme – which I have had for three four years now. (Good grief, in February I will have been blogging for FOUR years – where did that time go?) So this is one possibility…it may yet change again. The photograph above is one of my favourites from the 365 photoblog – taken at dawn on a snowy day just after Christmas.

I think I’m going to aim for weekly posts, that should be do-able, committing to daily posts is just too stressful and once posting becomes a chore then it is time to stop and ease off. So. Where to begin? The New Year didn’t start well for various horrible reasons but now seems to have settled down a bit and if it would just stop raining then I think I could almost be feeling quite cheerful. I have been busy which is always a good thing and have finally got a website featuring my work up – although again, this is a bit of an experiment using Indexhibit and I will probably change it as I found it a bit cumbersome and restrictive to use. You can see it here.

Note: Oops. This was sitting on my WordPress dashboard, half finished and I published it accidentally while explaining to a client over the phone how to publish a post on WordPress. That’s why all the dates are to pot and it is only a very short post! Still, maybe these happen for a reason and I will now attempt to live up to the above.

Incidentally, it did stop raining, I am feeling cheerful and I am still busy :-)

Hats off to Bridport

The town where I live, Bridport, is busy trying to reinvent itself and drag itself upmarket and into the 21st century. When a local hotel revamped itself and became a ’boutique’ hotel, there were cries from camps both applauding the move and loathing it. When an old derelict cinema was renovated and opened as an arts venue ‘The Electric Palace’ there was universal approval. However, when a reporter from the Observer newspaper suggested Bridport was becoming ‘Notting Hill on Sea‘ (in theory due to the large number of trendy London folk now visiting the town) there was uproar.

In Bridport, there is a brilliant shop called T Snook. This is their web site. They are a hatter and gentleman’s outfitters and inside it is an Aladdin’s cave full of hat treasure – they sell every kind of hat you can imagine – panama hat, bowler hat, top hat, fedora, fez, deerstalker, beret, bush hat, trilby, boater – the list is endless.  Splendidly, they decided to organise an event which they hope will become an annual tradition – the Bridport Hat Festival.

The sun was shining on Saturday, so I donned my hat (straw – very conservative) and headed into town to see what was going on. It was amazing. It seemed like the whole town was wearing hats, some had made the effort to make a wonderful hat, others were just wearing whatever they had at home but it was an fantastic sight. There were loads of trade stands selling every kind of hat, workshops teaching how to make hats (and their mini relation, the fascinator.) Here are some photos I took on Saturday.

At 12.30 there was a mass hat photograph in the town square (which is called BuckyDoo Square)

Later in the day there was a cocktail party and all the women attending had to wear a fascinator (not my favourite piece of headgear) but I have to say, having got togged up and worn one  I am coming round to the idea of them.

But I knew that it reminded me of something…

Later in the evening there was a poetry cabaret which was also excellent – the highlight was Matt Harvey – an hilarious poet who appears on Radio 4 regularly and who has also been asked to be the official Wimbledon poet in residence. His tennis poem ‘Thwock!’ was hilarious and my favourite. Listen to it here. (possibly UK only…)

These ladies are called the Lyme Bay Lovelies – a branch of the Red Hat Society, founded for ladies who are over 50 but not ready to start acting their age. The society was based on the poem ‘Warning’ by Jenny Joseph.

When I am an old woman I shall wear purple

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves

And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired

And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells

And run my stick along the public railings

And make up for the sobriety of my youth.

I shall go out in my slippers in the rain

And pick flowers in other people’s gardens

And learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat

And eat three pounds of sausages at a go

Or only bread and pickle for a week

And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes.

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry

And pay our rent and not swear in the street

And set a good example for the children.

We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?

So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised

When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Jenny Joseph

Today we watched an Argentine Tango Social Dancing display and then later we went to see local singer Jess Upton perform at the final event of the weekend.

The whole thing has been a brilliant success and lets hope the Bridport Hat Festival returns next year.

A blistering time…

I’m feeling very sorry for myself today. About 10 days ago, I was playing tennis at a friend’s house and it was a beautiful sunny day. Idyllic you might think, except for lots of small flies which were flying around the court and even worse – biting us. I must have had a bad reaction to the bites because the next day, I had 6 bites which turned into blisters and then continued to grow. I looked like I had bubonic plague of the leg. I won’t go into too much detail about the ‘bursting blisters on cream trousers while on shopping expedition’ scenario, suffice to say, it was very embarrassing and itchy/painful as well. The blisters were just starting to heal when it was time to play tennis again.

This time, I wore cropped tracksuit trousers (not only to hide the ugly sores but to keep my legs covered in case the flies were around again) and I covered the small part of my legs which were still showing with insect repellant spray. The little buggers must have found the only square inch that I missed and have bitten me twice and I now have two nice fresh humungeous blisters again. They hurt and itch like crazy and as they are so close together, the effect seems twice as bad as before. I now have antibiotics to try and get rid of them once and for all – and when I play tennis next Monday, I am going to wear a full beekeepers suit. I’ll keep this image small so as not to frighten you too much…it’s quite disgusting.

Anyway, before I was eaten alive, I’d been having quite a jolly time. I’m trying to remember what I have been doing since my last post and my photoblog is as good a reminder as anything, so apologies if you’ve seen some of this before!

I visited the Hampton Court Flower Show with some friends and we all loved this garden seat which was somehow woven out of growing bamboo.

I went to a ‘Back to the ’80s’ open air concert with my sister and niece in Shrewsbury which was great fun. We saw Go West, ABC, Rick Astley, Tony Hadley and Howard Jones – it was a really fun evening and great to hear all the old songs again. The highlight for me was seeing Peter Cox, the lead singer with Go West who just seems to improve with age. I swear he is much more gorgeous now than 30 years ago and his voice is amazing. I’ll even forgive him the ear ring…

I’ve been to an air show – the Royal International Air Tattoo and saw some rather amazing planes in action. Particulary awestruck by the F22 – Raptor, a mere £4 million.

I went to see ‘Inception’ which I really enjoyed and now need to see again to work out just what was going on – such a good film. And it had Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe in it….

I went AWOL for a day and had a girlie shopping expedition/lunch/afternoon tea in Exeter.

Exeter Cathedral

I went sailing with a group of friends in Weymouth Bay. The weather was pretty rubbish but it was quite breezy so we had a good sail and a lovely picnic while moored in Portland Harbour.

In between all this I have been working very hard on some web sites I have been asked to create so it’s not all fun and games. Honest.

To finish, I must share with you the work of a wonderful sculptor I discovered yesterday. She’s called Annawili Highfield and this is from her website. Do check out her work, the paper sculptures are especially astonishing.

Heidi goes to Glastonbury…

You’ll have to excuse my absence. I have been suffering from ‘not enough news’ syndrome and then it has been followed by ‘too much news’ syndrome. I shall gloss over the writers’ block period and rush straight to the ‘Oh my God, I love my life’ bit.

I had a week in Zurich staying with my friends who live in Schindellegi. I visited them in February when everything was covered in a thick layer of snow and Lake Zurich was covered in a thick layer of mist. What a difference 4 months makes. The sun shone, the lake re-appeared and the beautiful mountain scenery was revealed – gorgeous. Heidi country. Think cows with jangling bells around their necks, mountain chalets and impossibly green fields, pine forests and wild flowers, Julie Andrews spinning on a mountain top. Here are some winter/summer images, taken in Rapperswill.

This weekend, I have been at the Glastonbury Festival. My muddy adventures at the usual rain-sodden festival are well documented here. This year was the 40th anniversary of the first festival back in 1970 and for once the weather fairy had waved her magic wand and the sun shone. It was fabulous. The best ever. Lolling about (or dancing away) under clear blue, cloudless skies, glass of wine in hand, singing along to as diverse a set of performers as you will ever come across, people watching, chatting to complete strangers and re-uniting with old friends who I mostly only see once a year at Glastonbury, made for an amazing weekend.

There is something about live music that means you can listen to music you wouldn’t dream of playing at home yet it provokes a response that has you singing and dancing along with complete joy. (Thank you Seasick Steve and even more bizarrely, Slash, from Guns n Roses). Highlights of the weekend are many. Jackson Browne, Scissor Sisters, Shakira, Pet Shop Boys, Ray Davies, Jack Johnson, Faithless and the inimitable Stevie Wonder, who closed the festival last night. The only downside is the number of people who were performing I didn’t get to see. (Click to enlarge!)

To make a change from the muddy Glastonbury photographs, here are a few sunny ones.

I recently heard the phrase an ‘ear worm’ (from the German ‘Ohrwurm’) used to describe a song that gets embedded in your head and replays on a loop constantly in your unconsciousness. This has happened to me with this song to the extent I wake up with it running through my head. It’s by a band called Primary 1 who were performing at Glastonbury but I sadly missed them. This is their new single released on July 5th. Be warned it is SO catchy, you might get ear wormed….

As for the rest of the weekend, Formula 1 -yay for Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, less said about the football the better. At least I can concentrate on Wimbledon now, last week’s epic 11 hour match between Isner and Mahut was astonishing and a tribute to their mental toughness and physical strength. England football team, watch and learn and stop feeling hard done by for having to run about for 90 minutes while being paid a ridiculous amount of money. Dismal showing.

Hamming it up…

I was lucky enough to be invited to spend the weekend with friends who have a house in Devon near Salcombe. This part of Devon, for those of who don’t know it, is gorgeous. It’s called South Hams and the area is very green and pretty with its own microclimate which makes it a very popular holiday destination. It’s also a wonderful coastline for sailing as there are lots of picturesque towns and villages along the coast with marinas or mooring facilities. I have spent many a happy weekend pootling out to sea from Dartmouth, once sailing down to the beautiful Helford River in Cornwall, calling in at Salcombe, Fowey, Newton Ferrers, Bigbury on Sea and Burgh Island…all fabulous places.

Last weekend, the weather wasn’t brilliant – there were big black clouds but it didn’t rain despite the threatening sky and we had a wonderful time anyway. We even had a barbecue despite the cold wind. Well, the chaps barbecued and we ladies stayed inside…

On Saturday,we walked from Gara Rock round to Salcombe, a fairly vertiginous cliff path in parts but I kept my mind off the scary sheer drops by taking photographs of the stunning scenery. Click all images to enlarge.

The start of the walk at Gara Rock

It was especially scenic as the cliffs were covered in bluebells and other wild flowers.

The wind can be very fierce as you can see from the shape of this wind swept tree.

The path did come perilously close to the cliff edge at times…

Eventually as we walked along into Salcombe, we walked along the estuary and past sandy beaches. The sea was bright turquoise despite (or because of) the back clouds gathering overhead.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, on Monday morning when I opened the curtains to begin packing to go home, I was confronted by this…clear blue skies and sunshine.

The other excitement in my life has been the small matter of the General Election. Utterly absorbing and for once, completely riveting. I have never watched so much news or read so many newspapers as I have during the last few weeks. I resorted to checking the live election blogs of the Guardian and the Times online news web sites on my iPhone so I could follow the wheeling and dealing going on over the weekend while I was away. I went up to London by train on Tuesday and all the conversations were of the election. I have never known the country to be so gripped by politics.

And now we are left with the election for the new leader of the Labour party to entertain us. As I write the only candidates are the ‘Mili-band of brothers’ (not my joke I’m afraid, but I’m happy to steal it) which should interesting. Then I really must get back to work….

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