Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Families

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!

Mud and stuff

These are the last few photographs from my sister’s visit to Dorset, the weather ranges from wet and windy through misty and cold and on the last day – the sun came out. I thought I would try out the new WordPress slideshow option – quite nice.

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My #2 son arrived home on Friday for the weekend. I wanted to show him the fossils at Monmouth Beach so on Easter Sunday, we set out to visit Lyme Regis which was a VERY BAD IDEA. I drove us there at around 11.30am. We drove around and around but couldn’t find anywhere to park, Lyme Regis was full to bursting. We hadn’t reckoned on it being a) the first sunny day for a while and b) a holiday and c) lunchtime so we eventually gave up and headed for Charmouth instead. Same deal, only this time we ended up stuck in a traffic jam along a narrow lane leading down to the car park and the whole queue ended up having to reverse back down the lane to get out as there was no room to turn around at the bottom. Nightmare. So we came home :-(

We tried again the next day at 3.30 as it was Easter Monday and we figured most people would be setting off for home. It was still busy but much better and we had a great time walking along the beach with Milo. We found an area of rock on the beach known as the Ammonite Graveyard. (Click all images to enlarge)

It is quite astonishing and extends for a huge area of the beach.

This my son walking across it…

The cliffs along this stretch of beach are really unstable after the heavy rain we have had over the last few weeks and we could see water streaming off the clay and also watched large chunks of cliff falling onto the beach – which was a little disconcerting to say the least. I read in the local paper that 3 separate lots of children have had to rescued from the mud recently.

In the second image, if you click on it to enlarge it you can see an large ammonite lying amongst the rocks…

Of course all the muddy clay from the cliffs and the wet sandy rock pools were irresistible to Milo who had a whale of a time…

His day didn’t end quite so happily though, as soon as we arrived home he was dumped unceremoniously into the bath…

Have you ever seen a sorrier sight?

My son went back to London on Tuesday morning and Milo has been sulking ever since. He normally spends his days lying at my feet while I work but I am obviously a very poor substitute for his best friend, my son, and right now, he is lying downstairs on the sofa in the kitchen sighing and looks at me very dolefully when I walk in. Even a walk hasn’t cheered him up. Poor pooch.

A hunting we will go….

My sister and her husband are visiting Dorset. Yesterday, we decided to go to Lyme Regis. The weather wasn’t brilliant but at least the day started out dry. Compare this photograph of Lyme yesterday, with the second one of the same harbour in the summer….

The whole coastline in Dorset is a World Heritage site known as the Jurassic Coast. It is a rich hunting ground for fossil hunters and we were no exception we spent quite some time wandering along Monmouth Beach, to the west of the harbour and this is just some of what we found…it is ammonite central. Some of these are several feet across. (click images to enlarge)

The fossils are washed out of the cliffs which border the beach and which are composed of Blue Lias which are layers of limestone interspersed with clay. The cliffs are highly unstable and very prone to mudslides – which of course, the fossil hunters love as a mudslide generally deposits new fossils on the beach. The local authorities try in vain to persuade people to stay away from the cliff and in places it is forbidden to chip away at the cliff face. This group of fossil hunters were on an organized hunt so they were well prepared with hard hats (although I’m not sure they would protect you from having a cliff fall on your head…)

As we have had a LOT of rain recently the cliff face was particularly crumbly….and SO tempting.

We didn’t manage to find a pocket sized ammonite or any other fossil to take home but I have decided I am going to go on an organised hunt as I really want to know what I’m looking at. I found a couple of things that looked like they were something but I just wasn’t sure what!

We then moved on to Charmouth which is just along the coast from Lyme Regis and were going to walk to Black Venn – a famous place for fossils (and scene of a spectacular mud slide in 2008)  I found this when I was searching for Black Venn on the internet…

EEEK.

Anyhow, the tide was coming in and the rain was coming down so after a quick explore, we headed back home for a cup of tea. I’m really looking forward to showing my neck of the woods off to my sister  – if the dreadful weather would just improve. Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove next.