Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Illustration

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….

Some things never change

When I was first married, we lived in Cardiff and our best friends were a couple, Richard and Glynis, who have remained our friends for over thirty years. I am godmother to their daughter (hence the wedding reading – she is getting married in October) and Richard is the godfather to my #1 son. In 1983, my husband, our 4 month old son and I, went to live in Kuwait for three years and during this time, we kept in touch with our friends back in the UK, sending birthday cards etc. One year, on my birthday in early November, I received the following card from them.

card

Inside, it said ‘I’ve looked absolutely everywhere for a used birthday card that has flowers on the outside and money on the inside. Maybe next year. OK?

I sent it back to Glynis whose birthday is at the end of November, with the message ‘Found the card but still no money’ and thus a tradition was born. The card came back for Gavin’s birthday in April and we sent it back for Richard’s in May and so it has gone on for 26 years, sometimes getting lost, but always turning up again. We lost Gavin and Glynis from the rotation when both couples split up and so Richard and I continue to send the card back and forth. It has had extra sheets attached but remains intact and has just winged it’s way back to Cardiff for Richard’s birthday. Long may it continue!

card2

My #2 son arrived back from his travels safely last week. He arrived in Dorset on Thursday accompanied by his girlfriend. It was so wonderful to see him in one piece I can’t tell you! One of his travelling companions caught dengue fever while in Kuala Lumpur. Luckily, she has recovered but it was very worrying. He was thinner but otherwise healthy and he arrived bearing gifts – a gorgeous leather handbag. I am so thrilled with it that I shan’t object if he wants to go travelling again. As my friend Claire said the other day ‘I think I might have had more children if I’d realized they could one day provide so generously for me’. Quite. We went to my favourite restaurant in these here parts (in fact it’s my favourite restaurant in any parts) The Riverside at West Bay and he insisted on paying for lunch for us all. Love it.

On Saturday, I was invited to go and see an outdoor production of ‘The Barber of Seville’ in Abbotsbury. The plan was to meet up with friends, have a picnic then watch the opera. We managed the picnic but as we sat watching the opera, the heavens opened and we were all good and soaked. It was the first rain we have had for weeks and I felt so sorry for the singer playing Rosina because she was wearing a very flimsy costume and must have been frozen to death, the wind was really cold. They carried on gamely and even incorporated the man who came on at intervals to mop the rain off the stage, into the action. I must confess that during the interval, we took shelter, broke out the picnic again and listened from afar.

opera

I’m amazed that you can’t see the driving rain in this photograph but you can tell by the number of umbrellas belonging to the hardy souls who sat it out, just how wet it was.

The book

The book

Today, I have had news from Jemima. You might remember the wonderful illustrations she did for the book ‘Roverandom’ by J.R.R.Tolkien, (which I helped her bind for her university final project). She has just had a meeting with the Publishing Director of Harper Collins who publish all Tolkien’s work. He loves her illustrations and wants to re-publish Roverandom using her illustrations! She has left the book with them and they are going to show it to Christopher Tolkien who is J.R.R’s son, as they have to have his permission to use them in the book. Even if he doesn’t approve, they want to use her illustrations in future projects. Brilliant news, Jemima!

I’m off again next Sunday. I fly to Corfu for 10 days of sailing with my lovely sister and her husband. The day after I return, it is Glastonbury so I will be there for a weekend of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Crosby Stills and Nash, Blur, Madness, Status Quo, Lily Allen, Spinal Tap……. (see full line up here)

I love my life.

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.

A fine day indeed

I had a particularly good day yesterday. The night before, I stayed up until 2am printing pages and then got up at 7am to finish the job, rushed to the post office and posted the latest book to the record company, so that’s 8 finished, 12 to go. Once that job was done I could head off on a much anticipated trip.

Since I became interested in bookbinding, I have come across the work of Cathryn Miller on many occasions and I have always admired it. I was thrilled when she started commenting here. I bought a book recently called ‘500 Handmade Books’ a while ago and two books caught my eye in particular – both were by Cathryn.

500handmadebooks

The first of Cathryn’s books was called ‘Bipolar Dream Journal #2’ and it’s gorgeous, made using handmade paper.

cathryn2

I particularly like this one because I had a go at this ‘dos-a-dos’ binding and it’s difficult! The colour scheme she uses is a favourite one of mine – I love the black and white and the red ribbons. My own effort used my images printed onto linen bookcloth.

double-standing

The second book I admired is one I have mentioned before in this post. It’s an ingenious construction made out of a single piece of card. The photographs on the book were all taken by Cathryn (the photographs of the books were taken by her husband, David) and when I think of what ingenuity and patience must have gone into working out the placement and construction of this it makes my brain hurt. It’s called a ‘bustrophedon variation’  and the piece is printed on both sides with Cathryn’s own images of street art. It’s called ‘No Skateboarding’.

cathryn1

I was thrilled when Cathryn started to comment here on my blog, and I was even more thrilled when she mentioned that she and her husband, David, were on a walking holiday in the UK and she suggested we meet. Well, yesterday, I went to Salisbury to meet her and David for lunch. Salisbury in Wiltshire, is famous for two things (there are probably a lot more but these are THE most famous things about Salisbury)  – Salisbury Cathedral

salisburycathedral

and Stonehenge

stonehenge

and it is now famous as the place I met Cathryn Miller  – and she gave me the artist’s proof of the ‘bustrophedon variation’ I mentioned above! It is exquisite! I have seldom been more surprised and thrilled, in fact I was almost (but not quite) rendered speechless at her generosity. If you read this when you get back from your trip, Cathryn, THANK YOU. You and David are delighful, talented people and it was a privilege and a pleasure to spend time with you both. I will let you know how I get on when I eventually have a go at a ‘bustrophedon variation’ – but it will have to wait until I have finished my book commission!

I’m having a lazy day today – watching movies (Howard’s End at the moment), varnishing prints, tidying my desk

my-desk

and playing with the dog at the beach

miloatthebeach

We had a nice walk today but a couple of days ago, we encountered a younger Bichon Frisé puppy. The two dogs squared up to each other, danced around for a few seconds, then the other puppy turned around, cocked his leg and peed all over Milo. We were both taken aback – I’ve never seen a dog do that before. The cheek of it! Poor Milo! Apparently, this happened because Milo was being submissive to the younger dog – so I am going to give him assertiveness training then we will go and find the puppy and show him who’s boss :-)

Busy old weekend

Well, it’s been a fun weekend. Milo continues to delight – even when he is being very naughty. He refuses to walk on a lead. As soon as you attach the lead to his collar, he sits down and refuses to budge. We had a breakthrough of sorts yesterday. Some friends dropped in and we decided that the three of us ought to be able to persuade one small dog to go ‘walkies’. This was the result…

walkies1

Milo got about 100 yards from the house walking nicely on his lead, the excitement of us all setting out together overcoming his hesitation. A car passed us and he sat down and refused to move an inch so this is how he continued the walk. I see we are going to have to join puppy school.

I’ve had a very productive weekend. I sorted out my workroom which had become a bit of a disaster area of late. I now have a creative space upstairs for my books and a desk for computer based activities in the kitchen. If I work upstairs, Milo sits at the bottom of the stairs, crying. If I let him come up with me, we have a potential ‘puppy pee/poo’ disaster as although he can climb upstairs , he cannot climb down, so if I become engrossed in what I am doing, I pay for it. So it’s easier to stay in the kitchen with the pooch so he can take himself off into the garden when nature calls.

I also managed to set up my Mac in the kitchen to talk to the printer on the top floor and worked out a very complicated double sided, right way up, back to back, A4 on A3 paper, nightmare of a printer problem. (don’t ask!)  I’m still trying to track down some A3 sized inkjet printer paper which is double sided, about 200gsm (or thereabouts) but which isn’t brilliant white. I want off white or cream even and despite hours faffing about on the internet, I can’t seem to track any down. Any thoughts anyone?

I would be feeling quite pleased with myself had I not made the mistake of weighing myself this morning. Bummer. Literally. So the downside to a promising weekend is that I’m back on a diet. And spending my days working in the kitchen is a real test of my shaky will power. I get on much better when I am two floors away from the kitchen, because then I either forget about snacking altogether or at least running up and down two flights of stairs goes someway to mitigate the damage…

wii_humiliation

I daren’t turn on my Wii Fit, it will shout at me…

On the real life sporting front, Andy Murray won the Qatar Open, easily beating Andy Roddick and Manchester United beat Chelsea 3 – 0 which thrilled me no end.

To finish, here are two more things which have entertained me this weekend. First was from my friend Claire, who rightly pointed out how clever this is. In her words

‘This guy traveled all over the world with his recording equipment, recording street musicians playing the same song, and then meshed it into one fantastic and inspiring tune.  Just the feat of getting everyone to play it in the same key, in tune and in the same tempo is mind blowing.  Very nice job.
Music is, indeed, universal.’

and the second was from my friend Sharon. It’s a bit like popping bubble wrap and equally as addictive. Just click on this link, then just run your mouse over the bears. You’ll see what I mean.

So that’s it,  my new week’s resolutions are – train Milo, lose weight, get fit – no problem…

Have a fun week.