Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Design

Old things, new things – snow joke, you know…

I had a quiet intro to the New Year which was nice as the week between Christmas and New Year was quite hectic. Since then, I have been busy doing things I don’t normally do. First I baked a cake for a friend’s birthday. It was his 60th so we decided to have a 60s themed dinner – prawn cocktails to start, coq au vin and then I volunteered to make a black forest gateau for dessert. I haven’t done any baking for YEARS but I was actually quite proud of the finished cake.

I have also been rather obsessed with another hobby I haven’t done for an even longer time – knitting. When I was first married and lived in Cardiff  (around 1978), my best friend, Jo, and I became passionate about knitting and after we had knitted ourselves waistcoats and sweaters, we then began knitting our (then) husbands, cardigans and sweaters too. Even more astonishingly though, THEY WORE THEM! And on a trip to Paris! It must have been love. We have all been digging out old photographs from those days recently and we found some pictures of the hideous creations we had knitted, thinking we all looked so cool and trendy. Bless. Anyway, I wanted some wrist warmers, and decided to have a go at knitting my own. I found this wool (Sirdar Crofter) which is patterned so that when you knit it up, it makes a sort of Fair Isle pattern which looks great.I finished the wrist warmers and decided to have a go at some socks and then some fingerless gloves. Here they are…

You may be wondering why the fixation with warm hands and feet? Well, you have read about or are experiencing the arctic conditions here in the UK. It is freezing cold. Most of the country is covered in a  deep blanket of snow and has been for weeks. Here in Bridport, we have had the freezing temperatures (-9℃) but NO SNOW! We were forecast to have a huge dump of snow a couple of nights ago. I woke up looked out the window and it was green as usual. There was a flurry of snow for about an hour later that morning but it was like teflon – it didn’t stick and within a short space of time, it had mostly disappeared. I know snow causes massive disruption and bother for a lot of people but it does look so magical and is such fun (for about an hour until the cold sets in) but we seem to be having all the nasty bits – the extreme cold and icy roads and none of the pretty fun bits. Here is a photo NASA took of the UK recently – strangely, you can’t see my green oasis.

A slightly ironic result of all this is that I decided I needed some new boots to wear in the snow (!) I ordered them online but they have not arrived as the shipment has been delayed by…you’ve guessed it, the snow.

I did venture out to see ‘Avatar -3D’ the other night. It was quite astonishing and I absolutely loved it. It’s a visual treat and the world of Pandora as imagined by the CGI artists is extraordinarily beautiful in every tiny detail. The 3D effects are really good and actually seem to be coming out of the screen at times. Go and see it on the biggest screen you can – and make sure you see the 3D version and not the 2D one! Here’s the trailer (which does not do it justice).

I’ll spare you the photo of me doing my best Elvis Costelloe impersonation in my 3D specs….

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.

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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….

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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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…

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.

chickenhold

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….