Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Gardening

All quiet on the Western front….

For a change it’s all been quite quiet chez moi. Lots of web design and coding going on – I hadn’t realised that eCommerce was such a complicated thing, so that has been keeping me glued to my Mac day after day. Just as well as the weather has been dreadful – torrential rain and howling gales. It’s pouring again as I write this.

I did manage to escape to visit friends in Cardiff for the weekend last week. Needless to say it poured down and the trip back over the Severn Bridge was a nightmare but I did have a lovely time. We visited Cardiff Bay for a brisk walk (very brisk – it was freeeeeezing). I’d been there before – there are lots of shops and restaurants but I had never noticed that there is a Norwegian Church there. It’s a very pretty little building and outside there is a piece of Gaudi-esque sculpture which is a memorial to Captain Scott by Jonathan Williams. I thought this was a slightly odd place to site it, seeing as how Captain Scott was beaten to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen – a Norwegian explorer. The church has been now been deconsecrated and now has a tearoom and hosts craft fairs, weddings – and meetings of the Captain Scott Society (so they must have forgiven them!) It’s a small outpost of Norway, that is a taster for a planned trip to Oslo to attend RennyBA’s blog gathering in August next year, which should be fun and it will be great to actually meet some of the blogging friends I have made over the years.

I promised a two friends of mine that I would mention their new website, Chinti and Parker. It’s a gorgeous website selling ‘luxury basics which are produced ethically’. They sell women’s and baby clothes and I have to say it almost makes me wish I was a grandmother so I could treat my grandchild to an adorable hand knitted cashmere sweater. (I said almost, I’m not ready to be a granny just yet!)

It hasn’t escaped my ‘Bah humbug’ notice that Christmas is looming again. It’s December. Again. So soon. I am so disorganised and unenthusiastic about it. I have to confess at this point that the remains of last year’s tree are still at the bottom of my garden. I was going to burn it before the new one arrived in a week or so but it has been so wet I haven’t been able to. What a disaster. My garden fence was shredded by the wind too so I have ordered my new fence and a Christmas tree from Crocus. Let’s just hope the weather improves soon so I can do all the outdoor jobs which are piling up – install new fence, jet wash paving and decking (which is like a skating rink it is so mossy), repair leaking gutter, paint front door – you get the picture. If I can get a boy or two home maybe I can delegate….

Then there is Christmas shopping. The boys don’t seem to realise that when I say “if you don’t tell me what you want you won’t get anything’, that I mean it. It gets more difficult the older they get. I’m a great believer in Amazon Wishlists and add to mine in time for Christmas and birthdays. Trouble is no-one seems to ever read it so it just gets longer and longer until I give in and buy myself something off it. And don’t get me started on Christmas cards…

Thanks to Dave Walker for this. I love his cartoons, this is a link to his Christmas Advent calendar cartoons, every one a gem.

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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.

raffialbumraffialbum2raffialbum3raffialbum4raffialbum5

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 very mixed bag…

It’s been a funny old couple of weeks since I last posted. Lots of good things happening and a few bad. The good things included me finding out I was a runner up in a photography competition I entered a few weeks ago. This is the image they liked, it’s East Cliff, West Bay, Dorset.

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I’ve always liked this as we think that one of the clouds looks like Milo running across the sky. There is no prize for the runners up but we do get our photographs displayed in an exhibition so I am well pleased.

Another thing that has pleased me greatly was getting an orchid plant to flower for a second time. You know the ones – you buy them looking like this.

orchid1

They flower for ages but eventually, all the blooms drop off and you try to follow the instructions to make it flower again. It tells you to cut it back to the first node which means in my book, you chop the flowering stem right back almost to the base to the first node from the bottom, so it ends up looking like this.

orchid3

And so it remains until (if you are me) you lose patience, bin it and start again with a new one. However, I now discover that it means the first node FROM THE TOP  and lo and behold…

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I have BUDS and NEW SHOOTS!! Glory be! There is hope for me as a gardener yet.

The other good news was seeing this on the Falkiners (now Shepherds) blog (which you can also reach from their web site). They have extended their famous and already impressive wall of paper and it now looks like this. I feel a trip to their fabulous shop coming on. They are also starting to run beginners courses and master classes – read all about it on their blog.

ffp

Other good things include my Dad’s 80th birthday weekend over Easter which passed smoothly. My niece arrived, terrified of dogs and screamed at the sight of Milo. With some patient intervention, she was transformed within 10 minutes into Milo’s biggest fan and she followed him around the house the entire visit. I almost had to check her bag to make sure she wasn’t smuggling him home with her. One of my sisters invited me to go sailing in Corfu with her and her husband in June – I accepted immediately and booked it all yesterday. Fab, can’t wait.

abigail

Needless to say Milo sulked for days after they went home.  The bad news also involves Milo. He is now 9 months old and after being a perfectly housetrained little sweetheart for most of this time, even learning to use the dog flap without prompting, he has suddenly started doing all sorts of unsavoury things like peeing all over the house and getting frisky with his toys and people’s legs. He has hit dog puberty! I’m hoping it’s just a phase he is going through but I’m going to talk to the vet and if this is likely to be a permanent problem – then I will have to make a big decision…

The book project continues. I have completed 7 books and matching clam shell boxes and am well into the 8th set. I ordered some new inkjet cartridges for my printer. It uses 10 different coloured pigment inks and the new set arrived today – in 10 separate padded envelopes. How wasteful and ridiculous is that?

To end, I want to point you to the Britweek website, it’s an event going on in Los Angeles to publicize the British contribution to LA life. This is my ex. He is now a rock star and a photographer and has an exhibition called ‘Poetry in the Streets’ at his gallery in LA. You can also see a video of him performing with his band GTA, at a Teenage Cancer Trust concert a few years ago at the Royal Albert Hall.

Blimey.

Groovy.

Home again, home again, jiggety jig…

Well, I’m back and I seem to have brought back some sunshine – not as warm as California sunshine but very welcome nontheless. I managed to twist my knee playing tennis on the my last day so the 10 hour journey home in my cramped seat, followed by a 3 hour drive home to Dorset was really uncomfortable and painful. It was a price worth paying though for the wonderful time I spent in Venice, Los Angeles.

It’s hard to pick out a highlight as I have so many happy memories but certainly one great day was spent at the J.Paul Getty Museum where we went to see an exhibition by the Italian sculptor Bernini, but also saw an astonishing exhibition of photographs by a German photographer called August Sander, which I thought was truly magnificent. Here are some photographs which #1 son and I took of the museum and gardens.

I also made a pilgrimage with my very patient friend, Claire, to Paper Source and stocked up on very lovely paper so expect a new burst of bookbinding activity!

I went to a party at the home of the composer Michael Brook and his wife, Julie. Michael writes wonderful music , including the scores for the movies ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ and ‘Into the Wild’. He showed me a beautiful book about the work of Pierre Legrain and Rose Adler whose Art Deco bookbindings are absolutely exquisite and very inspiring. I found the book on Amazon and have ordered it, I’ll show you some photographs of these fantastic leather bindings, when it arrives.

Claire and her husband, Colin and I went to a great restaurant in Culver City called ‘Vinoteque‘. We had a great meal which was also a tutored wine tasting, comparing Old World and New World wines. The food was tailored to match each wine and it was so interesting to see how the wines complemented and added to the wonderful food. The wine tasting was followed by the US equivalent of a ‘pub quiz’. Astonishingly, our team, ‘The True Brits’ came second and we won a $10 voucher towards a future visit!

Anyway, I’m back now and I’m trying hard to catch up on the blogging front. I’m starting to get round all the blogs I normally visit but it’s a slow process. What with dodgy knees, unpacking, laundry and jet lag, it’s all been a bit mad. I found today, I had been tagged by Kim over at Laketrees. Actually she was sent three tags by Mariuca@Mariuca’s Perfume Gallery but I’m actually only going to do one today. The easiest one (and I think the most fun one). It’s called the Handbag Tag, and in Kim’s words:

The Handbag Tag is from ECL and here are the rules.
Find a safe quiet place free of significant others, nosey meme makers, priests, nuns, all things religious and men in general. (If you’re a guy just reverse this process to male and tell us about your wallet, tool box, briefcase or metro sexual accessory.)
1. Dump the contents of your handbag in a pile.
2. Take a photo of your handbag and the contents.
3. Be brave and ‘splain to your fellow bloggers what lurks inside the handbag.
4. Tag others who might want to embarrass themselves.
5. Answer these questions:
Describe the contents of your handbag. See my list below.

Purse, iPhone, earphones in wallet, camera, spare battery and memory card and case, sunglasses, reading glasses and spare pair, car keys, my Moo card mini cards and wallet, tin of M&S mints, Japanese wallet full of photographs of my boys and my passport, 3 Moleskine notebooks, 7 pens – various colours, 2 pencils, (1 automatic, 1 with sharpener and eraser), Prada perfume, lip balm, travel tooth brush and paste, mosquito repellant, hairbrush, Glastonbury Festival wrist band, various hair ties and clips.

SO MUCH STUFF! My only excuse is that I haven’t had time to empty out the holiday stuff and I don’t normally carry a lot of those things around. No wonder that one of my shoulders is lower than the other :-)

What’s the most important thing in your handbag? My iPhone
What’s the most embarrassing thing in your handbag? Too many pens, pencils and note books! Too much everything!
What’s the smallest thing in your handbag? Hair tie
Is there anything illegal in your handbag? No, although I notice that the pharmacy no longer sells the brand of mossie repellant I like – I think it probably contains something illegal…

So there you have it, I’m going to tag all my commentators, male and female. Show us your handbags, purses, briefcases, wallets, holdalls whatever.

I dare you!

PS You may notice that the menu at the top of my blog is looking a bit untidy. I have expanded the tutorial page to include a gallery of all my books (130 in the slide show I’m afraid!) as I realised that readers who were coming to my blog following ‘bookbinding’ links were probably hard pressed to actually find any, so I decided to include the gallery. Now just need to sell some of the buggers!

Exit, stage left….

That’s it. I’ve had enough. My replacement garden furniture has still not arrived – despite being promised delivery in 2 weeks, 4 weeks ago. They now say, that they can only deliver my table when there is another customer in my area to deliver to ‘to make it worth their while’. WHAT?!!!! What if no-one ‘in my area’ buys a table for the next 2 years? Do I have to wait that long? They have my money, I want my table!! It’s just as well (sort of) that we are having a rubbish summer or I would be EVEN MORE ANGRY.

I tried to play tennis today and we were rained off after 2 games. I am sick of this weather, so when a friend who is holidaying in Mallorca rang me yesterday and said she had come indoors as it was too hot to sit in the sun, it was the last straw. I secured myself an invitation, booked a flight and am off to join her tomorrow. Who says I’m not spontaneous?

So, a very short post, just this, which is for writinggb who admired the BBC’s ‘Monkey’ Olympics trailer last post. Here is another promo the BBC broadcast a few years ago. I love it. So in the spirit of irony, I give you ‘A Perfect Day’. See how many celebs you can name…