Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Book arts

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?

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

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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…

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Help!

you-v-tech

I have spent an inordinate amount of time this week trying to sort out my email settings. As you might know, I own the domain name dianealdred.com and it struck me that I don’t use the associated email so I decided to set it up as an alternate email address. My #2 son has been here this week too and as he has his own domain name and also wanted to use the associated email for business, I attempted to set both of them up. Oh my God! Why is it SO difficult? The domain names were registered with different companies so I had two separate and ridiculous sets of instructions to follow. I ended up (after much fiddling about), with me able to send emails but not receive them and my son, being able to receive emails but not send them. Nightmare.

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Turns out my problem is that my domain name is now mapped to my blog and the emails sent to me at dianealdred.com are re-routed by WordPress to Google mail – but not my ordinary gmail account, oh no, to a separate ‘diane@dianealdred.com’ gmail account. Who knew? When I checked it, there were about 30 emails from the last two years stashed away there, unread, from various companies and an old boyfriend (which gave me a turn!) but mostly from my friend Claire in LA – sorry, love, wasn’t being rude or ignoring you – honest! My son’s email problem remains unsolved. We have copied the settings exactly as instructed but it still won’t work, there is some impressive buck passing going on by the company we have registered the domain name with and their website is confusing, unhelpful and clunky. Rubbish, AZC.

e-mailI now am suffering from tech support phobia and I am going to get on with making my books, a much more peaceful and stress free pursuit.

I went to Pittards factory shop yesterday and bought leather for several projects I have in the pipeline, two wedding albums, a ‘new baby’ album and a huge ‘our holiday’ album. The leather I bought was so cheap compared with buying it from the retailers I normally use, I couldn’t resist buying several pieces. Meanwhile, the work continues on the music anthology project (I am working on books 11 and 12/20) so I am busy, busy, busy, which is all good.

Right, I’m off, where’s the glue….

I may have found my new career…

I’ve been occupied this week with making a gift for my sister to say ‘Thanks’ for my wonderful sailing holiday in Greece. Here’s a sneak preview of what I made for her. I was going to send her a CD with copies of all the photographs I took but I decided it might be nice to make an album of the highlights which would hold the CD. So here it is.

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I’m now going to make a birthday gift for a friend celebrating her 40th birthday on Saturday. She is the daughter of my very good friends, Mike and Julie, and it is very scary indeed to realise that my friends’ children are now reaching 40. How can this be? I am sure I’m not much older than that myself. Mind you I did start counting my birthdays backwards several years ago, so I might be mistaken….

As this is a return to my bookbinding posts, I want to tell you bookbinding folk of two discoveries I have made recently. One is Ratchfords who sell a full range of bookbinding materials from their web site  – not the best online shopping experience but they are extremely helpful and offer prompt delivery. My other discovery is a factory shop at Pittards. Pittards is  in Yeovil, where they make gloves (in fact the local football team, Yeovil Town,  is nicknamed The Glovers) but the factory shop has a HUGE range of all grades and colours of leather and leather working tools you can imagine – as well as gloves and handbags etc. I visited the other day and managed to take these photographs.

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Wow. Very inspiring and the prices weren’t too bad either.

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I watched the epic Men’s Final at Wimbledon on Sunday. What a match! I started out rooting for Roger Federer but by the end I was so impressed with Andy Roddick’s play, I didn’t want either man to lose. Poor Andy Roddick looks shell shocked in the photo above. What a marathon, one of the best matches I have ever watched. I’ve been feeling a bit bereft this week, no more Wimbledon for a year but all is not lost. I can now move seamlessly on to watching the cricket – The Ashes series started yesterday and promises to be as exciting as ever. By the time that finishes, the football season will be starting again, hey ho.

And now, the job of a lifetime. It has come to my notice that Wookey Hole a complex of caves near Wells in Somerset and a famous tourist attraction is advertising a job vacancy. They are going to pay £50,000 a year to some one who is willing to live in the caves and be……a witch. Local legend says the original Wookey witch was turned to stone when a Catholic monk, sent by the Abbot of Glastonbury, splashed her with holy water. A large, vaguely witch-shaped stalagmite in one of the caves is said to be her petrified remains.

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Wookey Hole wants the appointee to go about her everyday business as a hag, so that people passing through the caves can get a sense of what the place was like in the Dark Ages. This was when an old woman lived in the caves with some goats and a dog, causing a variety of social ills including crop failures and disease. The job is straightforward: live in the cave, be a witch, and do the things witches do.”

The ad goes on

Wookey Hole is advertising nationally and hopes to attract a strong field of candidates, with the £50,000 salary serving as a major incentive. Ambitious witches, looking for a key career move, should turn up dressed for work and bring any essential witch accoutrements. A limited range of potion ingredients will be available. We are witchless at the moment so we need to get the role filled as soon as possible. The successful applicant will need to like dark, enclosed spaces, be good around a cauldron, enjoy the company of cats and have a good cackle. We are looking for someone who is friendly, a little mischievous and with lots of character.

Interestingly, there is also a paper mill at Wookey Hole and they make the most beautiful handmade paper which I have bought on many occasions. Perhaps I could be the Wookey Hole bookbinding witch….

PS Please check out the Social Vibe widget in my sidebar, if you click on it, TNT will make a donation to the ‘Fill the Cup’ campaign by the World Food Program. It’s free for you and it’s a very worthy cause. Better still, if you have a WordPress blog, put your own widget on your blog! You can choose from a selection of different charities and sponsors. Every little bit helps :-)

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!

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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.

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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.

Planes, trains and automobiles

Well, I’m back. I have so much to tell you that it’s all a bit daunting, so I’ll start at the beginning and take a few short cuts.

I went to see Julia Fordham perform at the Pigalle Club in London. She was quite amazing as usual, her extraordinary voice never fails to send shivers of pleasure down my spine, she is a truly talented singer and songwriter. Her sister, my friend Claire, was there and phoned the whole gig in to her parents who weren’t able to be there! Here is one of my favourite (if not THE favourite), Julia Fordham song. If you don’t know her please watch this and marvel.

I flew to the South of France with Claire for the premiere of ‘The Making of Plus One’. I’ve told you about it before, it’s a mockumentary set and filmed during the Cannes Film Festival last year, about a producer trying to get a film made, which is based on Claire’s book (still with me?) I wasn’t sure how it was going to work but it was very good, very funny and fast paced and I enjoyed it immensely.

Cannes was fabulous, everything I thought it would be – glamorous and glitzy, we went to a cocktail party on a large boat, drank champagne in the Carlton, hung out at the Majestic for the after screening party, hob nobbed with celebs.  The screening of the film ‘The Making of Plus One’ based very loosely on Claire’s book and in which she and her sister Julia appeared was eventful. I won’t repeat the whole saga as Claire tells it so well over at her blog here so please do visit and read her account of it all – and read how her horoscope saved the day. I tell you this, I wish I had one quarter of Claire’s chutzpah, she is amazing and so deserves to do well.

claire-cannes

boat_cannes

My next stop was Geneva. I flew out of Nice at 8am and an hour later was in Switzerland. I met my friend Edwina who had flown in from England and we took the train to Crans Montana. It’s a lovely journey as it follows the shores of Lac Leman, through Lausanne and Montreux and then heads of down the Rhône valley to Sierre.

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It’s always nice to go to Crans, but as an unrepentant non-skier I love it in the summer! It’s very pretty in the winter but I prefer it green.

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We were there a day and then we set off to drive to Mallorca. We drove through Switzerland to France, the journey prolonged by several long hold ups due to a combination of accidents, roadworks and sheer volume of traffic and quite frankly, Montpellier just seems to go on forever, but we eventually arrived in Port de la Selva where we spent the night.

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The next morning we were on the road again, heading for Barcelona where we caught a ferry to Palma in Mallorca. The 7 hour trip passed surprisingly quickly and before we knew it we had docked and were on the road to Puerto Pollensa, our final destination. We then collapsed in a heap and spent a very lazy week, eating drinking and lolling around in the sun – although we did walk to Cala San Vicente one day – over a mountain, I’ll have you know! Here are some pics to give you a flavour of the rest of the week.

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So now I’m back. I brought sunshine home with me and it has been a slow process getting back into the swing of things. Milo was thrilled to see me but did miss #1 son when he went back to Bath. The most excellent news is that #2 son arrived back from his 4 month trip around South East Asia this morning and is heading to Dorset tomorrow. Woohoo! I am so looking forward to seeing him, it’s ridiculous.

I have just a couple more things to pass on to you bookbinding afficionados. I have just bought three new books to read. I am currently reading a book called ‘People of the Book‘ by Geraldine Brooks, which is about a book restorer and promises to be very good. While I was in Cannes I met one of the stars of ‘The Making of Plus One’, Sara Stockbridge, (who was a model and muse for Vivienne Westwood). She is tall, blond and gorgeous and now, she has written a book called ‘Hammer’ “a novel of the Victorian Underworld” and she told me about a book called ‘ The Journal of Dora Damage‘ by Belinda Starling, which is a book about a bookbinder! I have just bought it and on the back it says ‘a riveting tale of bookbinding and Victorian pornography’. Ooh er missus!

This is Sara and I on the boat in Cannes, with Omid Djalili, a really funny British-Iranian comedian, who was also at the party.

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Star struck? Me? Possibly.