Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Music

Busy, busy, busy…

Well, I’m finally back home again. How many times have I said that already this year? It has been a wonderful few months.

My sailing holiday in Greece was so relaxing. There were four of us, Grant,  who is THE most easy-going skipper,  (in my experience most chaps turn into Captain Bligh the instant they step on a boat), my sister, Julie, who is a very knowledgeable and experienced first mate, (and also a most amazing cook, producing wonderful meals in a space not much bigger than my fridge back home!) and my niece Melanie who is a very athletic deckhand, and does all the leaping on and off the boat, so there was not much left for me to do except do what I do best – be a deck bunny – reading and sunbathing being my most onerous duties. I did wash up occasionally so don’t think that I didn’t pull my weight :-)

I arrived back in the UK on Thursday last week and on Friday, I had packed up and was on way to Glastonbury Festival. It was a very pleasant festival this year. Although it did rain before we arrived so there was mud, the sun shone for the rest of the weekend which dried it all up. The line up was particularly good this year, the highlights for me being Neil Young and Bruce Springsteen. Other bands I enjoyed were Blur, the Specials, Amadou and Mariam, Tom Jones ( one sight I won’t forget was a dreadlocked, multi-pierced couple swaying and singing along to ‘Delilah’ with their arms waving in the air!) I also LOVE Madness. This is my favourite of their songs. To hear tens of thousands of people singing along to this was a joy!

Here are a selection of my Glastonbury photographs from all the years I have been going to give a flavour of the occasion. First, a panorama I took of the site.  You can’t capture the size of the site easily, it covers 900 acres, is 1.5 miles across, the perimeter is 8.5 miles and 177,000 people attended (that’s the size of York). Click on the thumbnail to see a full sized image.

Glastonbury

To see some amazing images from the Boston.com website click here. There is a wonderful aerial photograph of the site.

I arrived home from Glastonbury, grubby and tired but very happy indeed and the the next day, I was invited to Wimbledon so #1 son and I headed off to London and had a wonderful day watching some awesome tennis. We saw Tommy Haas play Novak Djokovic and then most of the Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Roddick match. It was a scorching hot day – temperatures reached 32º C (that’s about 90º F) but fortunately our Court 1 seats were in the shade so we had a great time. here are some photos of that day!

So now I’m home again. Milo is sulking because I have been away, the weather is breaking and rain is forecast but it is nice to be back again. I am going to unpack and put the suitcase away for a while. But after I’ve watched the tennis on TV….

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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!

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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.

Planes, trains and automobiles

Well, I’m back. I have so much to tell you that it’s all a bit daunting, so I’ll start at the beginning and take a few short cuts.

I went to see Julia Fordham perform at the Pigalle Club in London. She was quite amazing as usual, her extraordinary voice never fails to send shivers of pleasure down my spine, she is a truly talented singer and songwriter. Her sister, my friend Claire, was there and phoned the whole gig in to her parents who weren’t able to be there! Here is one of my favourite (if not THE favourite), Julia Fordham song. If you don’t know her please watch this and marvel.

I flew to the South of France with Claire for the premiere of ‘The Making of Plus One’. I’ve told you about it before, it’s a mockumentary set and filmed during the Cannes Film Festival last year, about a producer trying to get a film made, which is based on Claire’s book (still with me?) I wasn’t sure how it was going to work but it was very good, very funny and fast paced and I enjoyed it immensely.

Cannes was fabulous, everything I thought it would be – glamorous and glitzy, we went to a cocktail party on a large boat, drank champagne in the Carlton, hung out at the Majestic for the after screening party, hob nobbed with celebs.  The screening of the film ‘The Making of Plus One’ based very loosely on Claire’s book and in which she and her sister Julia appeared was eventful. I won’t repeat the whole saga as Claire tells it so well over at her blog here so please do visit and read her account of it all – and read how her horoscope saved the day. I tell you this, I wish I had one quarter of Claire’s chutzpah, she is amazing and so deserves to do well.

claire-cannes

boat_cannes

My next stop was Geneva. I flew out of Nice at 8am and an hour later was in Switzerland. I met my friend Edwina who had flown in from England and we took the train to Crans Montana. It’s a lovely journey as it follows the shores of Lac Leman, through Lausanne and Montreux and then heads of down the Rhône valley to Sierre.

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It’s always nice to go to Crans, but as an unrepentant non-skier I love it in the summer! It’s very pretty in the winter but I prefer it green.

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We were there a day and then we set off to drive to Mallorca. We drove through Switzerland to France, the journey prolonged by several long hold ups due to a combination of accidents, roadworks and sheer volume of traffic and quite frankly, Montpellier just seems to go on forever, but we eventually arrived in Port de la Selva where we spent the night.

portdelaselva

The next morning we were on the road again, heading for Barcelona where we caught a ferry to Palma in Mallorca. The 7 hour trip passed surprisingly quickly and before we knew it we had docked and were on the road to Puerto Pollensa, our final destination. We then collapsed in a heap and spent a very lazy week, eating drinking and lolling around in the sun – although we did walk to Cala San Vicente one day – over a mountain, I’ll have you know! Here are some pics to give you a flavour of the rest of the week.

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So now I’m back. I brought sunshine home with me and it has been a slow process getting back into the swing of things. Milo was thrilled to see me but did miss #1 son when he went back to Bath. The most excellent news is that #2 son arrived back from his 4 month trip around South East Asia this morning and is heading to Dorset tomorrow. Woohoo! I am so looking forward to seeing him, it’s ridiculous.

I have just a couple more things to pass on to you bookbinding afficionados. I have just bought three new books to read. I am currently reading a book called ‘People of the Book‘ by Geraldine Brooks, which is about a book restorer and promises to be very good. While I was in Cannes I met one of the stars of ‘The Making of Plus One’, Sara Stockbridge, (who was a model and muse for Vivienne Westwood). She is tall, blond and gorgeous and now, she has written a book called ‘Hammer’ “a novel of the Victorian Underworld” and she told me about a book called ‘ The Journal of Dora Damage‘ by Belinda Starling, which is a book about a bookbinder! I have just bought it and on the back it says ‘a riveting tale of bookbinding and Victorian pornography’. Ooh er missus!

This is Sara and I on the boat in Cannes, with Omid Djalili, a really funny British-Iranian comedian, who was also at the party.

cannes_sara

Star struck? Me? Possibly.

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.

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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.

Let’s dance…

I have been cutting board for the last few days for the 20 books (and matching clam shell boxes). 14 precisely measured pieces of board for each set. 280 pieces altogether. I am having a day off today as my arm is starting to hurt a bit at the wrist and a slight twinge of tennis elbow – which is annoying as I haven’t even had the fun of a game of tennis. In between, I have been tweaking and cropping 90 images (web sized image and a thumbnail for each) for the web site I am working on. I’m starting to feel like a robot. Luckily, my friend who owns the Pierrepoint Gallery has just offered to cut the rest of the board on this amazing all-singing, all dancing glass/board/perspex cutter he has at the gallery. Hurrah!

Talking of all-dancing….(tenuous link alert!) A while back, I did a post about the search engine terms people use to find my web site. Here is the latest all time stats.

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As you will notice, inexplicably ‘strawberry’ is still up there.  I hope the 79 people searching for ‘frumpy’ were disappointed – cheek! Javier Bardem is  climbing the charts – possibly due to the release of ‘Vicky Christina Barcelona’ in the UK (such a good film). There are still a lot of people looking for polar bear jokes but top spot goes to people searching for info on Sylvie Guillem. This is rather good news as I have just bought tickets to go and see Sylvie Guillem and Russell Maliphant (also a genius) in a new ballet ‘Eonnagata’ at Sadler’s Wells in June.

“Eonnagata tells the story of the Chevalier d’Éon, Charles de Beaumont – diplomat, writer, swordsman and a member of the King’s Secret, a network of spies under the control of Louis XV. De Beaumont was perhaps the first spy to use transvestitism in the furtherance of his duties and until the day he died his true gender was a source of constant speculation, even provoking public bets in the late 18th century.”

Wow.

Watch this clip and then you will get a small idea of how excited I am! (Plus it might attract another 1357 Sylvie fans to ‘Much of a muchness’ – which won’t hurt!) I have optimistically bought two tickets for the performance in June and am now holding auditions for the part of ‘ballet enthusiast and date for the night’. Form an orderly queue ;-)

Vodpod videos no longer available.

In complete contrast, this is the most hilarious thing I have seen on the TV in ages.  ‘Red Nose Day‘ approaches – a huge charity fund raising day here in the UK organised by Comic Relief. As one of the events this year, a TV show called ‘Let’s Dance’ has lots of celebs and comedians re-creating famous dance routines in a competition which runs over several weeks. The comedian, Robert Webb, (half of  ‘Mitchell and Webb’ of ‘Peep Show’ fame and the UK version of the ‘I’m a Mac, I’m a PC’ ads) performed the famous routine from ‘Flashdance’. Here is Robert as he usually is.

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Here he is performing ‘Flashdance’.

I keep watching this and it makes me laugh every time. The rest of the competitors might as well throw in the towel now. It’s in the bag.

Milo news:  I have bored Milo into submission! He was fed up of sitting at my feet while I worked one day so he got up, ran downstairs (a first) and then went through the dog flap all by himself (also a first), came back in through the dog flap, back up the stairs and lay down by my feet again. I knew he could do it and was just being stubborn. Glory be!! It’s a miracle!! Now just need to train him to make me a latte and I’m sorted….