Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Crafts

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.

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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.

Croeso y Cymru

I’ve been in Cardiff for a couple of days. The trip was arranged so I could finally hand over the wedding album I have been working on, to my god-daughter and her husband. They seemed to like it and now they have seen it, I can finally reveal some photographs of it…click all images to enlarge.

This A3 sized album and box are covered with a pearly silver satin book cloth which I bought from Paper Source in the US. The spine is covered in white leather, bought from Pittards. The inner cover of the album and the box lining was printed from a unique design the couple used for their invitations and wedding stationery and continued the whole theme through from the wedding. I printed the 75 double sided pages using my Canon Pixma Pro 9500 printer which uses archival quality pigment inks for longevity and lightfastness. I am really pleased with how this album turned out and I hope it leads to orders for more albums – god-daughter and husband are going to 6 weddings this year! I already have a new client lined up who is marrying in July but I’d like more, these albums are such fun to work on. Now the decks are clear, I am finally going to start work on my own website – it’s been a long time coming!

This morning we all went for a walk up Wenallt Hill. It was a really good walk through woods and open fields. The bluebells were just starting to come out, it will be even more wonderful in a few days. Here are some shots of the walk.

I’m now back home in Dorset, Milo is still in kennels so the house seems very quiet after being with a houseful of people in Cardiff. It’s amazing how such a small dog can create such a large space when he isn’t here. He may be small but he has a big personality! Still, I will pick him up from kennels in the morning, he will sulk all day (payback for taking him to kennels) then we will get back to normal. At the moment, I’m just relishing the peace and quiet, busy day tomorrow…hwyl fawr!

It’s all go….

Yet again I have to apologise for a long absence, I’ve had a very busy couple of weeks. I finished the website I was making for a friend who makes polymer clay jewellery. It’s my first e-commerce website called Al-Andalus Creations, it went live last week and he has started selling the jewellery and it all seems to be working as it should which is a huge relief. I also set up a blog for him today and he has a Facebook fan page, so it’s all go! Here’s a screenshot of the home page.

Please visit, and even better buy some :-)

I also helped my young friend Jemima Hunt bind another book for her uni illustration course. You might remember she did a set of illustrations for the book ‘Roverandom’ by J.R.R.Tolkien and we bound the book last year. For her extended final project, she has been making collages to illustrate a children’s story she has written called ‘Tomatoes’. It is SO good. You can read about the making of ‘Tomatoes’ on her blog but here are some photographs I took during the process.

Bear in mind all these illustrations were originally  collages – they are so clever.

I have just finished the wedding album I am making for my god daughter and her husband. I am really pleased with it. It is A3 size and the wedding photographs I have printed out look wonderful. I sent to Paper Source in the US for the book cloth and it was well worth the wait as it has turned out very well. Can’t show you photographs of that as she hasn’t seen it yet but here’s a sneak peek of one of the pages…

I’ve also been putting the finishing touches to another website, this one for a wool shop in Weymouth called ‘Spin a Yarn’.  They have a selection of baby shawls for sale which are hand knitted by the staff and they are so pretty. They are also going to be selling crocheted throws – have a look at those too!

I’ve also been trying to keep my photoblog up to date each day which I must confess is proving harder than I anticipated. I have had to resort to trawling through my iPhoto library when I haven’t had time to get out and take a new image and am fast running out of suitable images. It’s a very good discipline and is making me be more discriminating about the thousands of photographs I have in my library (not to mention the thousands of photographs in boxes which aren’t digital). I was just having a rummage through a large box of old photos to find a particular one.

Yesterday was my youngest son’s 24th birthday. As usual, my ex rang me up to wish me a happy birthday – a tradition he started when my first son was born and he has continued to do ever since. As he says, in a way it’s my ‘birth’ day too :-)  Here’s the photograph I was looking for,  the birthday boy aged about 9 months. Soooo cute.

Well, that’s news of lots of projects coming to an end, my plan now is to finally get round to making a website for ME! What’s that saying? ‘The best laid plans of mice and men…..’ – we shall see :-)

PS I have been nominated in the ‘Best little blog’ awards over at Dorset Cereals (who make my favourite muesli and porridge) – you can see an icon in my sidebar to vote for me – all votes gratefully received! I thank you :-)

A very good trip…

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.

Fournier Street

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.