Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Birthdays

….AND relax…..

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.

Sayalonga

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.

If I ever have the time to do it…

I’m a hothouse flower…

Well, that’s all my travelling done for this year. Unless some miracle happens, I am doomed to the rain and grey skies here in the UK until next year. It was 37°C every day I was in Mallorca, clear blue skies – I loved it. I am definitely a hothouse flower.  I arrived back in the UK yesterday and today it is raining. Sorry to bang on about the weather again but it does get me down.

Anyways, before I went to Mallorca, I was very busy making two albums and boxes for the friend I was going to stay with and for her daughter, who gave birth to a beautiful baby boy back in May. It was my friend’s birthday (a significant one) and as I couldn’t think of a present to buy her, I made her the album of photos of her first grandson. I asked her daughter to send me lots of photos of the baby and she kindly sent me nearly 500, so it was a very enjoyable task to go through them and choose the best to go into the two albums. (I printed them on to double sided heavy weight paper using my Canon Pixma Pro 9500 printer using archival pigment inks, for the technically minded among you)

Here are photos of one of the albums – one was pale blue and the other was pale green. The photo on the front was taken in the baby’s bedroom.

raffialbumraffialbum2raffialbum3raffialbum4raffialbum5

My friends have THE most beautiful house. I am especially attached to it because I helped to choose it several years ago after a whistlestop visit to Mallorca when we viewed 18 houses, with 4 different agents, in 2 days. The house they bought was the last one we viewed – on the way back to the airport. They grow all their own fruit and vegetables – there are olive, almond, carob, apple and pear trees, grapes, tomatoes, plums, damsons, sweet potatoes, figs…the list goes on. Idyllic times.

It was a fabulously lazy holiday (even by my standards) – wonderful friends, great food, lots of swimming (well, floating about on an inflatable reclining chair), lots of reading, chatting and bobbing about on boats. I even managed to keep up with the cricket while I lay by the pool, thanks to my faithful iPhone. In fact on Saturday, I was following The Ashes, the Man U (my team) v Wigan footie match (5-0! Keep it up boys!) and the Formula 1 qualifying (go Lewis!) from the comfort of my sun lounger. A very sweet day on the sporting front.

lollingI even managed not to drop my phone in the pool…

Just before I left for Mallorca, I took part in an event which happens every year in my town, Bridport. There is a carnival which takes place on Saturday and then on Sunday evening, there is a torchlight procession from the town hall in Bucky Doo Square to the coast at West Bay, where there is a huge bonfire and a firework display. It was a fine dry night so 1500 people took part, the walk takes about an hour and it was very atmospheric.

torch2torch1

Milo was in kennels while I was away. I picked him up yesterday. He was in a disgusting state. He smelled terrible, his feet and fur were matted with smelly mud and worse (horse poo?) his coat was full of matted lumps, his eyes were streaming and irritated. I was told the dogs are allowed to run around and play together in a large paddock which is covered in bark chippings. Apparently it had rained while I was away. He has only stayed there overnight before so I was not prepared for the consequences of leaving him there for a week. When I complained about the condition he was in, (I said the standard of care was outrageous) I was told I was outrageous for not wanting my dog to have fun. I dread to think how long they would have left him in this state if I have had gone away for a longer holiday. The sad thing is that I had recommended this kennels to several friends as it appears to have good facilities. I shall be spreading the word and am now on the hunt for another place to take him when I go away.

muddymilo

Poor little pooch. Dog groomers for him tomorrow.

A narrow escape…

Warning: The following post is not for those of a nervous disposition, touching as it does on the removal of a sensitive part of the male anatomy…

Milo and his favourite toy

Milo and his favourite toy

Today, Milo had a reprieve. I had finally tired of his adolescent dog behaviour, particularly the need to mark his territory all over the house and had booked him in for ‘the snip’ at the vets. I had been assured that this would stop his anti-social behaviour. I dropped him off first thing this morning, feeling quite mean as it is his first birthday on Wednesday and it was a harsh way of celebrating the event  but a short time later, the vet rang me up and said that it was a lot more complicated than first thought. Apparently, the bits of Milo that were about to be removed had not actually  descended yet, which would necessitate a much more serious operation, going in through the abdomen and searching for the offending articles – with no guarantee they would actually be able to find them! I decided not to put him through this (and not just because it was going to cost double the original cost – the thick end of £200) and so he came home. He thanked me by peeing under the kitchen table. Marvellous. I thanked him by giving him a bath. You can tell how much he enjoyed this from this photograph.

What a sorry sight...

What a sorry sight...

Never mind, he wasn’t allowed to eat before his surgery so I can now give him the chicken I was going to give him as a treat when he got back from the vets. Spoiled dog? I should say so…

And now an update. Do you remember how I told you about pruning orchids back in April and showed you this photograph of  the first plant I had managed to get to sprout again after the initial flowering?

orchid2

Well, this is what it looks like now. I took this photograph yesterday.

orchidmark2

It has not stopped flowering since April. Interestingly, the flowers themselves are smaller than first time around but it looks stunning.

Other than this, not much to report. I’ve been busy making photo albums for a friend and her daughter – can’t show you them yet as they are gifts which I will hand over in a couple of weeks when I go to stay with them in Mallorca and I don’t want to spoil the surprise (in case they read this!) but I will post photos when I get back. I asked my friends’ daughter for some photos of her new son and said ‘the more the merrier’ or some such. Thrillingly, she sent me over 400 so I have been sifting through them and trying hard to choose the best to print for the album – so difficult as there are so many! She is going to send me even more current ones this week so it is going to be a lovely album. I have also been asked to make a wedding guest book for a wedding I have been invited to at the end of the month. So many lovely projects, I do like being busy – especially when the weather is so rubbish. BBQ summer? Don’t make me laugh…

Some things never change

When I was first married, we lived in Cardiff and our best friends were a couple, Richard and Glynis, who have remained our friends for over thirty years. I am godmother to their daughter (hence the wedding reading – she is getting married in October) and Richard is the godfather to my #1 son. In 1983, my husband, our 4 month old son and I, went to live in Kuwait for three years and during this time, we kept in touch with our friends back in the UK, sending birthday cards etc. One year, on my birthday in early November, I received the following card from them.

card

Inside, it said ‘I’ve looked absolutely everywhere for a used birthday card that has flowers on the outside and money on the inside. Maybe next year. OK?

I sent it back to Glynis whose birthday is at the end of November, with the message ‘Found the card but still no money’ and thus a tradition was born. The card came back for Gavin’s birthday in April and we sent it back for Richard’s in May and so it has gone on for 26 years, sometimes getting lost, but always turning up again. We lost Gavin and Glynis from the rotation when both couples split up and so Richard and I continue to send the card back and forth. It has had extra sheets attached but remains intact and has just winged it’s way back to Cardiff for Richard’s birthday. Long may it continue!

card2

My #2 son arrived back from his travels safely last week. He arrived in Dorset on Thursday accompanied by his girlfriend. It was so wonderful to see him in one piece I can’t tell you! One of his travelling companions caught dengue fever while in Kuala Lumpur. Luckily, she has recovered but it was very worrying. He was thinner but otherwise healthy and he arrived bearing gifts – a gorgeous leather handbag. I am so thrilled with it that I shan’t object if he wants to go travelling again. As my friend Claire said the other day ‘I think I might have had more children if I’d realized they could one day provide so generously for me’. Quite. We went to my favourite restaurant in these here parts (in fact it’s my favourite restaurant in any parts) The Riverside at West Bay and he insisted on paying for lunch for us all. Love it.

On Saturday, I was invited to go and see an outdoor production of ‘The Barber of Seville’ in Abbotsbury. The plan was to meet up with friends, have a picnic then watch the opera. We managed the picnic but as we sat watching the opera, the heavens opened and we were all good and soaked. It was the first rain we have had for weeks and I felt so sorry for the singer playing Rosina because she was wearing a very flimsy costume and must have been frozen to death, the wind was really cold. They carried on gamely and even incorporated the man who came on at intervals to mop the rain off the stage, into the action. I must confess that during the interval, we took shelter, broke out the picnic again and listened from afar.

opera

I’m amazed that you can’t see the driving rain in this photograph but you can tell by the number of umbrellas belonging to the hardy souls who sat it out, just how wet it was.

The book

The book

Today, I have had news from Jemima. You might remember the wonderful illustrations she did for the book ‘Roverandom’ by J.R.R.Tolkien, (which I helped her bind for her university final project). She has just had a meeting with the Publishing Director of Harper Collins who publish all Tolkien’s work. He loves her illustrations and wants to re-publish Roverandom using her illustrations! She has left the book with them and they are going to show it to Christopher Tolkien who is J.R.R’s son, as they have to have his permission to use them in the book. Even if he doesn’t approve, they want to use her illustrations in future projects. Brilliant news, Jemima!

I’m off again next Sunday. I fly to Corfu for 10 days of sailing with my lovely sister and her husband. The day after I return, it is Glastonbury so I will be there for a weekend of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Crosby Stills and Nash, Blur, Madness, Status Quo, Lily Allen, Spinal Tap……. (see full line up here)

I love my life.

A very mixed bag…

It’s been a funny old couple of weeks since I last posted. Lots of good things happening and a few bad. The good things included me finding out I was a runner up in a photography competition I entered a few weeks ago. This is the image they liked, it’s East Cliff, West Bay, Dorset.

dianealdred03

I’ve always liked this as we think that one of the clouds looks like Milo running across the sky. There is no prize for the runners up but we do get our photographs displayed in an exhibition so I am well pleased.

Another thing that has pleased me greatly was getting an orchid plant to flower for a second time. You know the ones – you buy them looking like this.

orchid1

They flower for ages but eventually, all the blooms drop off and you try to follow the instructions to make it flower again. It tells you to cut it back to the first node which means in my book, you chop the flowering stem right back almost to the base to the first node from the bottom, so it ends up looking like this.

orchid3

And so it remains until (if you are me) you lose patience, bin it and start again with a new one. However, I now discover that it means the first node FROM THE TOP  and lo and behold…

orchid2

I have BUDS and NEW SHOOTS!! Glory be! There is hope for me as a gardener yet.

The other good news was seeing this on the Falkiners (now Shepherds) blog (which you can also reach from their web site). They have extended their famous and already impressive wall of paper and it now looks like this. I feel a trip to their fabulous shop coming on. They are also starting to run beginners courses and master classes – read all about it on their blog.

ffp

Other good things include my Dad’s 80th birthday weekend over Easter which passed smoothly. My niece arrived, terrified of dogs and screamed at the sight of Milo. With some patient intervention, she was transformed within 10 minutes into Milo’s biggest fan and she followed him around the house the entire visit. I almost had to check her bag to make sure she wasn’t smuggling him home with her. One of my sisters invited me to go sailing in Corfu with her and her husband in June – I accepted immediately and booked it all yesterday. Fab, can’t wait.

abigail

Needless to say Milo sulked for days after they went home.  The bad news also involves Milo. He is now 9 months old and after being a perfectly housetrained little sweetheart for most of this time, even learning to use the dog flap without prompting, he has suddenly started doing all sorts of unsavoury things like peeing all over the house and getting frisky with his toys and people’s legs. He has hit dog puberty! I’m hoping it’s just a phase he is going through but I’m going to talk to the vet and if this is likely to be a permanent problem – then I will have to make a big decision…

The book project continues. I have completed 7 books and matching clam shell boxes and am well into the 8th set. I ordered some new inkjet cartridges for my printer. It uses 10 different coloured pigment inks and the new set arrived today – in 10 separate padded envelopes. How wasteful and ridiculous is that?

To end, I want to point you to the Britweek website, it’s an event going on in Los Angeles to publicize the British contribution to LA life. This is my ex. He is now a rock star and a photographer and has an exhibition called ‘Poetry in the Streets’ at his gallery in LA. You can also see a video of him performing with his band GTA, at a Teenage Cancer Trust concert a few years ago at the Royal Albert Hall.

Blimey.

Groovy.