Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Books

Procrastinating champion of the world

I’ve got the ‘January, weather is rubbish, Christmas is over, summer is ages away, everyone’s in a foul mood, too much to do, I’m on a diet, can’t stop procrastinating’ blues. You know the feeling. I’ve even resorted to re-using this fab cartoon from last year. In fact, I have just done a quick search and I have used it twice before but hopefully, you won’t remember and I will get away with it. It says it all really. I have loads to do (two websites to work on) but unfortunately, I have started to read a really good, unputdownable book and got into knitting in a big way, so the temptation to idle my days away reading and knitting is hard to resist. I am on a diet too,  so all my will power is being used up on stopping the bad eating habits I got into over the Christmas period and there is none left at all for work discipline. I suppose the answer would be to have a ‘get the book finished’ day and limit the knitting to evenings only. That might work…

The book, by the way is ‘Under the Dome’ by Stephen King. I heard a review of it on Radio 4 and it sounded quite good and even though I normally avoid the schlocky horror (not Rocky Horror) genre, I thought ‘Well, this is the man who wrote the short story that ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is based on, maybe it will be OK’ and now I am gripped. It’s the sort of book that you want to know the end but don’t want the book to finish, if you know what I mean. I’m reading it on my Kindle so I can’t easily jump ahead and read the ending which is an advantage of the Kindle I guess. It is rather unfortunate that the book came out after the ‘Simpsons Movie’ (when Springfield gets enclosed in a giant dome) but you soon stop expecting Homer to pop up and say ‘Doh!’ when things go wrong. Anyway, in the interest of fairness and to celebrate the Simpsons 20th anniversary, here is the trailer for the film which includes the classic  Homer and ‘Spider Pig’.

The other thing that I have done which is bizarre given all I have just said about being busy (well, having lots to do) is start a new blog. I know, I know, it makes no sense at all but it’s Teresa’s fault she made me – honest! She has taken up the challenge to post a photograph a day for 365 days. Her photo blog is here, mine is at 365pix Project. It’s actually quite easy as I’m only going to post one photograph and maybe a quick comment every day. I didn’t start until the 10th so I may have to go over until the 9th in 2011 but we will see how it goes. Why don’t you join in?

Now then, I’m going to take Milo for a walk, make a low-cal but nutritious and tasty lunch (I wish), then I am going to WORK on those websites – although I might take a photograph on the walk and post it to my new blog first and the laundry needs dealing with and I really ought to tidy my desk and maybe make a cup of tea…

….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…

A brief pause…

Beryl Cook - LADIES WHO LUNCH

Ladies Who Lunch - Beryl Cook

Another hectic week. It amuses me that occasionally I get called ‘a lady who lunches’ because I don’t go out to work every day, whereas in reality, some days I am so busy I forget to have lunch. This week was one of those weeks.

It was my god daughter’s wedding on Friday 2nd, so I had to drive up to Tetbury in the morning. Just before I set off, #2 son rang me from Heathrow airport – he was going to a wedding in Santa Barbara. He told me that he had just put a CD of photographs in the mail to me – they were the photographs of his 4 month long trip to South East Asia earlier in the year and he needed them sorting and binding into an album to give as a ‘thank you’ gift. He needed them if possible by Friday 9th, bit of a tall order but I said I would do my best.

The wedding was lovely. The venue – a converted barn in the middle of the countryside was gorgeous and my god daughter looked divine. I had been asked to do a reading – that seemed to go well. All in all, a great day and a good chance to catch up with some old friends I hadn’t seen for a long time.

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I came home the next day and found the CD of photographs waiting for me. There were 412 photographs (selected from thousands that my son and his three friends had taken on the trip) and I then spent the next 5 days sorting, tweaking, arranging, cutting, glueing, printing and binding (and screaming and swearing at) the album. I worked late into the night and got up early each day, determined to meet the deadline. I was using QuarkXpress to layout the images – and it kept crashing and freezing and at one point I lost 5 hours work when it crashed and I found it hadn’t been autosaving (hence the cussing and screaming) but I eventually finished – but missed the deadline to post it to London in time by two hours. So frustrating. To make matters worse, as I had now missed the deadline, annoyingly it meant that I actually now had 2 weeks before the next opportunty to give it to the people it was a gift for, so all my rushing had been for nothing. On the positive side, it turned out really well and I am very pleased with it.

It is covered with black leather which is embossed with a snakeskin effect. The paper inside the cover is a handmade paper that my son brought back from Laos and I made a box for it covered with black silk bookcloth. It’s larger than other albums I have made – A3 sized but it looks fab – even if I do say so myself.

benalbum1benalbum2benalbum4benalbum5

Yesterday, I put the finishing touches to another wedding album I have been working on – three times. The album was made and I was happy with that but I ended up covering the box with three different coloured book cloths. The first two times, I wasn’t happy with it so I tore the bookcloth off and started again. The third time I got it right. Can’t show you that one yet as I don’t want to spoil the surprise for the bride and groom who will not be seeing it until next week so that will have to wait for my next post.

Last night, I went to a diamond wedding anniversary party – the couple were celebrating 60 years of marriage. We had thought it might be a quiet affair after all, the couple were in their 80s but not a bit of it. We partied until 3am (and were not the last people to leave) I just hope I have that much stamina if I make it to 80 years old. You will excuse me if I am a little fragile today…

So I am having a day away from bookbinding, I am watching Doris Day in ‘Calamity Jane’ and putting my feet up. I have a cup of tea and a stem ginger shortbread biscuit and I’m working my way through the Sunday Times. It all begins again tomorrow….

Oops.

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.

anish1anish2

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.

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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….

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Wedding bells…

I had a lovely weekend. I was invited to accompany a friend to his niece’s wedding and as I do like a good wedding, I dusted off my posh frock and my dancing shoes and accepted. I had promised to make the bride and groom a guest book for the the wedding guests to sign at the reception. This is what I came up with. The book spine is white leather and the cover image is printed onto Belgian linen ink jet bookcloth.

The wedding guest book

The wedding guest book

  • The book and its box
  • The book and its boxInside the book
  • The box

    The box

    The wedding was in a very beautiful and tiny church in Weymouth called St Anne’s. The service was really sweet as the vicar kept forgetting the groom’s name – not ideal, but luckily, he got it right at the crucial bits of the service. One of the readings was a Pam Ayres poem which brought the house down.

    Yes, I’ll Marry You

    Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,
    And here’s the reason why;
    So I can push you out of bed
    When the baby starts to cry,
    And if we hear a knocking
    And it’s creepy and it’s late,
    I hand you the torch you see,
    And you investigate.

    Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,
    You may not apprehend it,
    But when the tumble-drier goes
    It’s you that has to mend it,
    You have to face the neighbour
    Should our labrador attack him,
    And if a drunkard fondles me
    It’s you that has to whack him.

    Yes, I’ll marry you,
    You’re virile and you’re lean,
    My house is like a pigsty
    You can help to keep it clean.
    That sexy little dinner
    Which you served by candlelight,
    As I do chipolatas,
    You can cook it every night!

    It’s you who has to work the drill
    and put up curtain track,
    And when I’ve got PMT it’s you who gets the flak,
    I do see great advantages,
    But none of them for you,
    And so before you see the light,
    I do, I do, I do!

    The vicar also included my ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ quotation (which I am reading at my god daughter’s wedding in October) in his sermon. It sounded good, so I am busy rehearsing for when I have to stand up in public and read it – gulp. It will be a bit ‘curly’ as my ex will be there too – a bit strange for me to be extolling the virtues of married love but – hey ho, has to be done.

    Lulworth Castle

    The wedding reception was held at Lulworth Castle, which is actually a mock castle. It was built as a hunting lodge in 1610 by Thomas Howard but it was destroyed in a fire in 1929 and left as a roofless ruin. In the 70’s a restoration was begun which was completed in 1998. It is fascinating, the ground floor has been renovated but the upper floors have not been replaced. It was re-roofed and the walls cleaned so as you stand inside you can see the full height of the building above you and see fireplaces, doors and windows which were in rooms far above you. One of the towers has a spiral staircase which takes you up onto the roof to see the spectacular views of the surrounding parkland to the sea as far as Poole harbour.

    During the afternoon, we went outside to watch a display of jousting which was great fun. Here are some photographs of the afternoon.

    Such a fun day – and the only sunny day of the whole weekend, so doubly blessed. I hope the weather is as kind at the wedding in October.

    I’ve spent the time since then re-writing my friend Claire’s web site and giving it a bit of a revamp. Last week, she discovered that her old website had been blocked by Google. It turned out that it had been hacked and big chunks of it had been overwritten with malicious code. When I had removed the code, it was easier to write her a new website than try and resurrect the old one. You can see the results and read what Claire has been up to here.

    claireheading

    I should have been busy this week making an album for my #2 son. He wanted me to make him one using all the photographs that he and his three friends took during their four months of travelling in South East Asia earlier this year. They are having great difficulty deciding on which photographs to include – they have managed to edit it down to 2000 so far, so I’m not holding my breath :-)

    travels

    Finally, news of Milo. After his ordeal at the kennels, I had to take him to the dog groomers. The only way to sort out the matted knots in his coat was to give him a severe haircut – he has been shorn naked! Poor thing looks like a demented poodle. Here are before and after pics. At least his hair will grow I suppose…

    Milo and his favourite toy

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