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.
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.
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.
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.
I decided at fairly short notice, that I needed to go to London. My #2 son and two friends have just moved into a new flat, I needed to have a meeting with a client about the jewellery website I am designing for him and last but not least, my ex was in town (not in itself a reason to rush up to town but he was bringing some bookcloth from the US for me…) so a trip to London was in order. I decided to travel by train and as some of you might have read (and the rest of you may have heard me complaining from wherever you are reading this!) the train fare to travel from Dorset to London and back the next day was £96. £96!!! Ridiculous. Yes, I now know if I had booked weeks in advance I could have got it much cheaper but I didn’t know I wanted to go weeks ago! I could have flown to the Mediterranean a couple of times for less than that – and it wasn’t even First Class. Anyway, rant over.
My son’s flat is in Shoreditch, near Spitalfields Market – an area of London which has become very smart, full of great places to eat (we ate at St John Bread and Wine – highly recommended), design studios, art galleries and shops. At the same time it is full of history – it’s ‘Jack the Ripper’ territory – scene of the famous Whitechapel Murders and many of the pubs and places associated with these infamous times are still standing and included in many of the “Jack the Ripper’ tours in the area. Spitalfields (probably a contraction of ‘hospital fields’) was home to a large community of Huguenots who fled France in 1685 following the treaty of Nantes and who settled in the area bringing their silk weaving skills. They built beautiful houses, many of which are still standing. My favourite street was Fournier Street which has been restored beautifully and these homes are now worth a FORTUNE.
Opposite this street is the beautiful Christ Church built by Nicholas Hawkesmoor
Christ Church, Spitalfields
The area is also home to a large Bangladeshi community centred around Brick Lane, famous for its market and curry houses. I love that the street signs are in English and Bangladeshi.
On the corner of Fourner Street and Brick Lane there is a mosque – the Jamme Masjid or Great London Mosque which has in its time been a Huguenot chapel, which then became The Jewish Chapel (for promoting Christianity to the large Jewish population in the area) then it became a Methodist chapel, then it was consecrated as the Machzikei HaDath (or Spitalfields Great Synagogue) and then finally a mosque. What a testament to multiculturalism.
The Jamme Masjid
As you wander the streets , you can’t help but notice the amazing graffiti on the walls. Apparently Brick Lane is world famous for this street art (some done by the mysterious and secretive street artist Banksy). Here’s a small sample.
My favourite piece was carved out of a wall which had been painted black then painted white on top, by exposing the different colours they had carved this image – not sure if it is technically graffiti or not but so clever. You can click on this one a couple of times to enlarge to see the detail.
We also passed this on our tour – a shoe tree. No idea what it is all about but very silly none the less.
So all in all, a wonderful visit (and if I’m honest well worth £96.) Back home now and putting the finishing touches to the jewellery website (will tell you about it when it’s launched) and looking forward to beginning the wedding album for my god daughter and her husband, using the beautiful book cloth brought over from Paper Source in the US by my ex. I adore Paper Source but they wanted $115 to ship a $63 order. Please Paper Source, open up in the UK or at least sort your shipping costs out. Sheesh.
I’ve done quite a lot since I last wrote here. So much so that I’m only going to give you potted highlights otherwise you will lose the will to live before you are half way through.
I was invited to a Charity Gala dinner in London on Friday 30th October, the highlight of which was the after dinner speaker – President Bill Clinton. He spoke about the charity work he does through the William J Clinton Foundation and particularly mentioned Kiva a cause I support already and recommend (link in my sidebar).
We mooched around Portobello Road market (as seen in the film ‘Notting Hill’) on Saturday as rather amazingly, I had never been there – great fun. We came back from London on Sunday as I had a meeting. I mention this because I then rushed back up to London on Monday morning to spend some time with my #2 son for my birthday
He and I finally got to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Royal Academy – it was fabulous. Really enjoyed it.
Anish Kapoor and 'Yellow' at the Royal Academy
We went to see Simon Lynge – a very gifted singer songwriter who comes from Greenland. It was the launch party for his new album to be released in February. He was very good indeed. See for yourself. I love this song which is his single.
Rushed back from London (again) in time to go out for with lunch with some friends and #1 son for my birthday.
Spent my birthday packing as I was going to Spain to stay with a friend early the next day.
Had a wonderful holiday in Sayalonga, a small hilltop village in the mountains behind Malaga. We had several hair raising trips out along winding mountain roads tracks to visit pretty towns and to admire astonishing views.
One highlight of the trip was a visit to the Caves at Nerja – possibly the best thing I have ever seen – utterly awesome. Here is a photograph which you can click on to see a large version. They have concerts in these caves in the summer (if you zoom in you can see the seating) – definitely added to my list of things to do. Opera in these caves would be astonishing.
One thing that can now be ticked off my list of things to do, was the other highlight of my trip – a visit to the Alhambra in Granada. If the Caves at Nerja are an example of nature at it’s most magnificent, then the Alhambra is an example of how sublimely beautiful some of man’s creations can be. It’s truly breathtaking. Here is a slide show of the photographs I took.
The weather in Spain was beautiful – cool in the mornings and evenings but in the 70s and sunny during the day. I arrived back in the UK to torrential rain and howling gales – which has continued and shows no signs of going away. Just as well that I have been thrown back into the deep end with the latest iteration of the record company book project. With only three days to work on it before it had to be packaged up and sent to Seattle and as there were major re-writes and design changes, it was a manic weekend. Fedex have given me several highly stressful moments which I could have well done without but hopefully I (and they) made the deadline.
So now I am working on a couple of websites. One, my first e-commerce site for a friend who makes jewellery will be a fun project and hopefully the experience will help me when I get round to designing my own website for selling my books and photograph albums.
Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun? I’ve just realised it is almost a month since my last post. Oops. I have no excuse other than I have been doing other stuff so that is a good thing in my book. When I used to post every day, I was in a very gloomy, bored and down in the dumps place – not from talking to you lovely people, I hasten to add, but from personal circumstances. Being too much in cyber space at the expense of a ‘real’ life is not a good thing and so as my real life gets busier, my blog gets neglected, I’m afraid. I am particularly fortunate in that I have great friends who drag me out to have fun when I start getting too wrapped up in bookbinding and web designing and stop me turning into a hermit. Thank you, people. :-)
Anyway, here are the highlights of what I have been up to at the expense of writing my blog – a black tie dinner and dance in aid of the NSPCC at a beautiful house called West Coker Manor (lots of dancing, my knees killed me next day), several dinners and BBQs with good friends (I’ve been to more BBQs this autumn than all summer), a wonderful day at the Goodwood Revival , a trip up to London to see my #2 son, a visit to the cinema to see ‘District 9’ (very good film), games of tennis (knees held up). In between all this activity, I have been working on a wedding album for a friend’s daughter (76 pages of beautiful photographs), designing and writing my new website (yes I’m finally going to start selling my books!), maintaining and updating various websites for clients and research for a new web design project I am about to start. Phew.
#2 son and I went to the Royal Academy to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition only to find it hadn’t started yet which was very disappointing but we did see this amazing construction which was outside. If you look closely you can see us reflected in the silver shapes. At least I have a very good excuse to head up to London again to see the exhibition which has now opened.
The Goodwood Revival is worth mentioning in more detail. What a fun day! For those of you who haven’t heard of it, this is what it is:
“The Goodwood Revival is the world’s most popular historic motor race meeting and the only event of its kind to be staged in the romantic time capsule of the Fifties and Sixties. As well as recreating the golden era of motor sport, the Revival offers exceptional wheel-to-wheel racing around a classic circuit, untouched by the modern world.”
It was fantastic, most of the people attending the three day event, dress in clothes of the period of Goodwood’s heyday – the 40s, 50s and early 60s. The motor racing is SO exciting, there was an air display and as it was Stirling Moss’s 80th birthday, there was a parade of 80 of the cars he has driven during his long motor racing career. I’m not a motor racing afficionado but who could not love these beautiful old cars and to see them racing was such a thrill.
I ‘ummed and aahed’ about what to wear and eventually wore a dress I had in my wardrobe that looked a bit ‘Mary Quant’ – very unadventurous perhaps and after seeing the effort other people put into their costumes, I shall do better if I ever go again! I’ve also been stressing out about what to wear to my god daughter’s wedding on Friday. I had it all sorted – smart dress, cashmere cardigan, kitten heeled shoes, (same outfit I wore for the wedding at Lulworth Castle) until I actually read the invitation and it said
‘Dress Code – Smart suits with ties and fabulous frocks, the more glamorous the better.’
Eek! I am now thinking my original plan is too…well, unglamorous. What to do? Time is running out so I have just bought some killer heels (and believe me, with my knees they will live up to their name) to jazz up my frock and that will have to do. At least I do like my dress, now, about the bag….