Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Pets

I may have found my new career…

I’ve been occupied this week with making a gift for my sister to say ‘Thanks’ for my wonderful sailing holiday in Greece. Here’s a sneak preview of what I made for her. I was going to send her a CD with copies of all the photographs I took but I decided it might be nice to make an album of the highlights which would hold the CD. So here it is.

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I’m now going to make a birthday gift for a friend celebrating her 40th birthday on Saturday. She is the daughter of my very good friends, Mike and Julie, and it is very scary indeed to realise that my friends’ children are now reaching 40. How can this be? I am sure I’m not much older than that myself. Mind you I did start counting my birthdays backwards several years ago, so I might be mistaken….

As this is a return to my bookbinding posts, I want to tell you bookbinding folk of two discoveries I have made recently. One is Ratchfords who sell a full range of bookbinding materials from their web site  – not the best online shopping experience but they are extremely helpful and offer prompt delivery. My other discovery is a factory shop at Pittards. Pittards is  in Yeovil, where they make gloves (in fact the local football team, Yeovil Town,  is nicknamed The Glovers) but the factory shop has a HUGE range of all grades and colours of leather and leather working tools you can imagine – as well as gloves and handbags etc. I visited the other day and managed to take these photographs.

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Wow. Very inspiring and the prices weren’t too bad either.

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I watched the epic Men’s Final at Wimbledon on Sunday. What a match! I started out rooting for Roger Federer but by the end I was so impressed with Andy Roddick’s play, I didn’t want either man to lose. Poor Andy Roddick looks shell shocked in the photo above. What a marathon, one of the best matches I have ever watched. I’ve been feeling a bit bereft this week, no more Wimbledon for a year but all is not lost. I can now move seamlessly on to watching the cricket – The Ashes series started yesterday and promises to be as exciting as ever. By the time that finishes, the football season will be starting again, hey ho.

And now, the job of a lifetime. It has come to my notice that Wookey Hole a complex of caves near Wells in Somerset and a famous tourist attraction is advertising a job vacancy. They are going to pay £50,000 a year to some one who is willing to live in the caves and be……a witch. Local legend says the original Wookey witch was turned to stone when a Catholic monk, sent by the Abbot of Glastonbury, splashed her with holy water. A large, vaguely witch-shaped stalagmite in one of the caves is said to be her petrified remains.

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Wookey Hole wants the appointee to go about her everyday business as a hag, so that people passing through the caves can get a sense of what the place was like in the Dark Ages. This was when an old woman lived in the caves with some goats and a dog, causing a variety of social ills including crop failures and disease. The job is straightforward: live in the cave, be a witch, and do the things witches do.”

The ad goes on

Wookey Hole is advertising nationally and hopes to attract a strong field of candidates, with the £50,000 salary serving as a major incentive. Ambitious witches, looking for a key career move, should turn up dressed for work and bring any essential witch accoutrements. A limited range of potion ingredients will be available. We are witchless at the moment so we need to get the role filled as soon as possible. The successful applicant will need to like dark, enclosed spaces, be good around a cauldron, enjoy the company of cats and have a good cackle. We are looking for someone who is friendly, a little mischievous and with lots of character.

Interestingly, there is also a paper mill at Wookey Hole and they make the most beautiful handmade paper which I have bought on many occasions. Perhaps I could be the Wookey Hole bookbinding witch….

PS Please check out the Social Vibe widget in my sidebar, if you click on it, TNT will make a donation to the ‘Fill the Cup’ campaign by the World Food Program. It’s free for you and it’s a very worthy cause. Better still, if you have a WordPress blog, put your own widget on your blog! You can choose from a selection of different charities and sponsors. Every little bit helps :-)

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.

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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….

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.

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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.

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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.

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Star struck? Me? Possibly.

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.

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

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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.

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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’.

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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

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and Stonehenge

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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

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and playing with the dog at the beach

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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 :-)

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.