Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Fashion

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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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.

goodwood1goodwood2goodwood3

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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Roverandom

I took a break from my big project this week (still can’t really show you it!) It was a bit of a busman’s holiday as a friend’s daughter, Jemima,  who is in the second year of a Visual Communication degree at a local uni, asked me to help her with her final project.  She had found a little known story by J.R.R. Tolkien called ‘Roverandom’ and she has produced 31 illustrations to accompany the text and she needed help binding it into a book – which is where I came in. The illustrations are beautiful – she drew them and used monoprinting onto handmade paper to achieve the wonderful textured effect of the  finished images. Here are some photographs of the book, it’s box and some of the illustrations.

box

The box

The open box with the book inside

The open box with the book inside

The book

The book

Inside the book

Inside the book

The mermaid

The mermaid

roversandboyanddog

I thought the book looked fantastic when it was finished and the illustrations fitted the text perfectly. I’m sure that Jemima will do really well when she presents this finished project to the university for assessment and I’m sure she has a very promising future ahead of her.

Other than this, a mixed week again. My laptop died and had to be resuscitated at the Apple Store in Exeter. It was caused by a faulty graphics card and I am very pleased that NVidia are picking up the tab for the repair. I didn’t really mind having to go to Exeter, it’s a rather nice city which has very good shopping (always a bonus in my book) and I bought some new glasses – which I did need as I keep mislaying my other pair (and then I can’t find them because I need my glasses…..) – it is really annoying. I went to the supermarket ‘sans specs’ the other day and was wandering around in a blur, unable to read any labels or price tags. Luckily, I knew by heart where the keys were on the PIN machine.

I have chosen a rather nice pair of Paul Smith frames and they are going to have the sort of lenses that turn into sunglasses when it is sunny out so I won’t need to keep swapping and changing glasses all the time when summer comes (and we have been promised a good summer this year. Yeah. Right.) or on my trips to sunnier climes – which will mean one less pair of sunglasses to worry about losing (or sitting on).

spectacles

I do find it very difficult choosing new glasses – mainly because of the problem everyone faces – I can’t see myself properly in the optician’s mirror when I’m trying them on. I think they should video you wearing them and then play it back to you (while you are wearing your own glasses of course :-) )

Oops, just had that problem –

xkcdemoticons

Any way, back to my specs. As I was handed the bill for my varifocal, transitions lensed, (very lovely) glasses I was reminded of this ad. Maybe I should have gone to Specsavers…..

Poor pooch.

Busy, busy, busy…

I have a huge bookbinding project on the go. I can’t give you too many details at the moment but the book in question is part of a huge 6 volume anthology and the plan is that I am binding volume 1 which is going to be used as a sample to show to some seriously famous musicians and actors to get them involved in the project. If I tell you that the first person it is going to be shown to is Morgan Freeman, you will see what I mean. No pressure there then. Gulp. So if I disappear off the radar for a while you know I am either getting stuck into the project or having a nervous breakdown.

My #2 son has been home for a couple of days and has given me some really good, useful input into my design ideas. He has just returned from visiting his father in Los Angeles and he brought Milo a gift. A T-shirt. Here he is wearing it.

milotshirt

I have to say he was not very impressed with it. He knew he looked ridiculous and did sulk until we took it off him.

Does my bum look big in this?

Does my bum look big in this?

We spent a large portion of the time #2 son was home trying to train Milo to use a dog flap in the back door. We taped the flap open so he would get used to going in and out without having to push the flap and he can do it. He just chooses not to. He sits with his head poking though the flap crying piteously until I can’t stand it any more and let him in. I don’t want the neighbours to think I am torturing him. The few times he did cave in and come through the flap, we celebrated and praised him and gave him treats but to no avail. Now #2 son has gone, Milo and I are back to him using the door like a human with me as his doorman.  Or we have a puddle on the floor. And the dog flap is so draughty…

#2 son is off travelling on Sunday. He is away until June travelling around Australia, Micronesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar…. I’m not envious. Honest. I felt bereft when he left me yesterday. In reality, he lives up in London anyway so I only see him infrequently but knowing for sure I’m not going to see him for 4 months and he is going to be so far away is very depressing. Have decided the best thing is to keep busy.

Back to my book…..

Add: I have an iPhone which I love and I just read an article by David Pogue in the New York Times about iPhone apps. You can read it here. He mentions this video which is a group of people playing ‘Stairway to Heaven’ on their iPhones using a app which turns an iPhone into an ocarina. I have this app (- and many, many, many, many more!) If only I had time to play with them I might eventually sound like this.

Wedding belles

What a wedding! I am just about recovered from a very hectic weekend indeed. It all began on Friday when I was still dithering about which outfit to wear to the Indian wedding celebration on Saturday. I kept trying the two choices on, asking opinions of anyone who happened by my house, I worried about which shoes to wear with both outfits. I tell you chaps, you have no idea how lucky you are. Suit, shirt, shoes – your only potential problem is the choice of tie. You have no idea of the minefield of fashion dilemmas we ladies face. Anyway here are the choices – two shalwar kameez – tunic, trousers and shawl suits. Click on all images to enlarge.

Both outfits were beautifully made and I suppose my dilemma was that I wanted to wear them both! Here are some details of the embroidery on each shalwar kameez.

Sequins and embroidery

Sleeve detail

I eventually decided on the red suit as I thought that the pink one was a bit too bright, a bit too ‘bling’ and maybe the more classy, subtle colours of the red and cream was more appropriate for a wedding. How wrong I was! I have never seen a more stunningly colourful wedding. It was uplifting and wonderful to see the vibrant rainbow of colourful clothing, both saris and shalwar kameez, worn by all the female guests, Indian and European alike. I have a small slide show at the end to give you a flavour of the proceedings but to be honest, I didn’t take too many photographs as I was too busy enjoying myself and kept forgetting to take them!

Me and my lovely boys

My younger son and my house guests, Garry and Beryl, arrived on Friday,  but my older son who was travelling from Bath, said he would arrive on Saturday morning. He finally pitched up at 1pm (the wedding started at 3pm) and I was relieved that he had made it in time. My joy at seeing him was soon shattered. His first question was ‘My suit and smart shoes are here, aren’t they?’  He hadn’t been able to find his suit at his house in Bath (needless to say he doesn’t wear it much) so he assumed they must be at my house. Wrong! What followed was an hour of panic while he tried on several old suits we had in the wardrobe. As you will see from the photograph, he is very much taller than his brother and all the old suits we had were much too short, so he changed into the shirt and tie he had brought with him, borrowed some shoes off his brother (a size or two too small) and still in his jeans they both shot off into Dorchester to try and buy him a suit. I went off to the wedding very apprehensive that either they would be late or #1 son would be unable to find a suit to fit. I needn’t have worried. They turned up with 30 minutes to spare and as you can see, he found a lovely suit which fitted perfectly.

The afternoon was gloriously sunny and began with afternoon tea where the most delicious canapés were served. We were then asked to cover our heads in preparation for the ceremony. The men were given scarves to tie around their heads and despite making them look a little like pirates, they all looked very dashing. Then, having removed our shoes, we went into the Gurdwara – another marquee which was decorated in shades of fuschia pink and orange – auspicious colours. The wedding ceremony is called the Anand Karaj (Ceremony of Bliss). On entering the Gurdwara, we had to bow to the Guru Granth Sahib, a box containing sacred texts, which was positioned in the centre of a dais where the ceremony takes place. All guests sit cross legged on the floor, females on the left, males on the right.

The bride wore a stunning red sari, heavily embroidered with gold thread and the groom wore a long cream brocade tunic, with a long red scarf, over slim cream trousers and a red turban. During the ceremony, Kirtan (hymns) are sung by the Raagis (musicians)  Ardas (prayers) are recited. The bride’s father places the end of the groom’s scarf in the bride’s hands, this is called Pallae di Rasam – tying the wedding knot. A series of four verses called the Lavaan are recited and for each one , the groom leads the bride around the Guru Granth Sahib, she is assisted by her brothers or close male relatives.

As you can tell, this photograph was taken by my friend Garry, who was sitting on the men’s side of the Gurdwara. The bride and groom are circling the Guru Granth Sahib during the Lavaan.

The First Lavaan is a promise to love each other for ever.

The Second Lavaan is a promise to merge together completely.

The Third Lavaan is a promise to be faithful to each other.

The Fourth Lavaan is the promise to be together in both happiness and adversity.

After the completion of the Lavaan, other hymns and prayers are sung and then a sweet cake called Koraah Parshad is passed to all members of the congregation.

Then we collected our shoes and left the Gurdwara. The ceremony was then followed by a champagne reception, dinner and dancing. I don’t know where to begin telling you about the marquee where we had dinner, it was vast, magnificent, awesome, splendid, gorgeously decorated – I’m running out of superlatives here – outside, the lake had been illuminated with floating lanterns and there were lanterns in the grass around the lake, leading to the surrounding trees which were all lit up – it was quite magical.

After a sumptuous dinner, there was much dancing to a wonderful Indian group playing Bhangra music (I think that is what it was called).  My knees are still feeling the effects – it was so, well, danceable! Later on,  we all chilled out in the stunning relaxation area until it was time to go home.

It was a truly magnificent occasion. My friend Edwina, is now very nervous as her two daughters (the girls in the photographs with my sons) have now got very firm ideas about their perfect wedding – the bar has been set very high indeed. Nick, their father, is keeping a very nervous eye on his wallet! As for me? Well, I’m planning a Bollywood party sometime soon so I get to wear my pink outfit….