Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Interesting facts

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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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.

A very good trip…

I decided at fairly short notice, that I needed to go to London. My #2 son and two friends have just moved into a new flat, I needed to have a meeting with a client about the jewellery website I am designing for him and last but not least, my ex was in town (not in itself a reason to rush up to town but he was bringing some bookcloth from the US for me…) so a trip to London was in order. I decided to travel by train and as some of you might have read (and the rest of you may have heard me complaining from wherever you are reading this!) the train fare to travel from Dorset to London and back the next day was £96. £96!!! Ridiculous. Yes, I now know if I had booked weeks in advance I could have got it much cheaper but I didn’t know I wanted to go weeks ago! I could have flown to the Mediterranean a couple of times for less than that – and it wasn’t even First Class. Anyway, rant over.

My son’s flat is in Shoreditch, near Spitalfields Market – an area of London which has become very smart, full of great places to eat (we ate at St John Bread and Wine – highly recommended), design studios, art galleries and shops. At the same time it is full of history – it’s ‘Jack the Ripper’ territory – scene of the famous Whitechapel Murders and many of the pubs and places associated with these infamous times are still standing and included in many of the “Jack the Ripper’ tours in the area.  Spitalfields  (probably a contraction of ‘hospital fields’) was home to a large community of Huguenots who fled France in 1685 following the treaty of Nantes and who settled in the area bringing their silk weaving skills. They built beautiful houses, many of which are still standing. My favourite street was Fournier Street which has been restored beautifully and these homes are now worth a FORTUNE.

Fournier Street

Opposite this street is the beautiful Christ Church built by Nicholas Hawkesmoor

Christ Church, Spitalfields

The area is also home to a large Bangladeshi community centred around Brick Lane, famous for its market and curry houses. I love that the street signs are in English and Bangladeshi.

On the corner of Fourner Street and Brick Lane there is a mosque – the Jamme Masjid or Great London Mosque which has in its time been a Huguenot chapel, which then became The  Jewish Chapel (for promoting Christianity to the large Jewish population in the area) then it became a Methodist chapel, then it was consecrated as the Machzikei HaDath (or Spitalfields Great Synagogue) and then finally a mosque. What a testament to multiculturalism.

The Jamme Masjid

As you wander the streets , you can’t help but notice the amazing graffiti on the walls. Apparently Brick Lane is world famous for this street art (some done by the mysterious and secretive street artist Banksy). Here’s a small sample.

My favourite piece was carved out of a wall which had been painted black then painted white on top, by exposing the different colours they had carved this image – not sure if it is technically graffiti or not but so clever. You can click on this one a couple of times to enlarge to see the detail.

We also passed this on our tour – a shoe tree. No idea what it is all about but very silly none the less.

So all in all, a wonderful visit (and if I’m honest well worth £96.) Back home now and putting the finishing touches to the jewellery website (will tell you about it when it’s launched) and looking forward to beginning the wedding album for my god daughter and her husband, using the beautiful book cloth brought over from Paper Source in the US by my ex. I adore Paper Source but they wanted $115 to ship a $63 order. Please Paper Source, open up in the UK or at least sort your shipping costs out. Sheesh.

Excuses, excuses

Well, the huge mountain of ‘things that need doing’ which I have been trying to run away from (and which must be attached to me by a long length of elastic) has finally smacked me in the back of the head and I have been forced into doing something about it. Consequently, I have been working on the e-commerce web site I am designing for a friend and am almost cross eyed with the twin joys of html and css. The site will eventually sell hand crafted jewellery and the other thing I have been doing this week (and continue to do) is processing dozens and dozens and dozens of photographs (which I confess up front – I took) which are basically not very good so they need lots of TLC and Photoshop to make them useable. Removing backgrounds, adjusting colours, removing specks (hint- always clean computer screen before starting THIS job) cropping and more cropping – it has been endless. Still, I think it is taking shape and starting to look very good (even if I do say so myself.)

So not much else to report. I am continuing to post a photograph to my 365pix project every day because that is quick and easy but I may have to go AWOL here for a bit while I concentrate on getting the web site finished. Sorry I’m not checking out your blogs at the moment too. Anyway to avoid this post being a complete waste of time for you, here are a few random things I found today while I was putting off starting work (still procrastinating)

  • I read this on the BBC web site today.

“In 1778, the third Duke of Chandos arranged a christening for his new-born son. The whole of fashionable society, including the Royal Family, was invited, and the Duke commissioned a lavishly embroidered christening robe. At the moment of baptism the child was uncovered and found to have suffocated under weight of the robe, upon which the Duke died of shock.”

  • I have already put this on my Facebook page, it never fails to make me smile, so I am adding here too. Love it.
  • I found this photograph yesterday of my youngest son when he was tiny. I adore it..

That’s it. Back to work!