Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Places

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.

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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.

Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun?

Well, I have just returned from another trip – this time to Switzerland.  Zurich to be precise. Schindellegi to be even more precise. It’s a small town sitting above Lake Zurich. Very pretty but unfortunately shrouded in fog most of the time I was there. I knew the lake was there but didn’t see it from the town until the last evening when the sun came out and the lake appeared miraculously from the mist. My friend and I visited Rapperswill which was a very beautiful old medieval town on the lake with an avenue of wonderfully weird pollarded chestnut trees along the water’s edge. We also went to see the astonishingly beautiful Benedictine Abbey of Einsiedeln which is ornately decorated with frescoes and stucco work inside.

We went to Crans Montana for the weekend. On a map it looks as if it is about an hour away until you realise that there is a huge mountain range in the way and the journey actually takes 3 1/2 hours but as always it is well worth the trip. The sun came out and the views from up the mountain across the Rhone Valley are quite breath taking. Here is a slide show of my favourite Swiss images from my Flickr photographs. You are spared the image of me head first in a bank of snow after parting company with my toboggan, as fortunately, no-one had a camera to hand….

Happy blog birthday to me!

While I was away, my blog celebrated its 3rd birthday. Although it is a shadow of its former self (when I started, I blogged every day and continued to do so for about 18 months or so) it soldiers on and I suppose as long as there are enough of you good people prepared to read it (for which I thank you very much indeed), I will continue. It does provide a wonderful excuse to down tools and think back over my week and decide what is worth remembering, noting down and even cherishing. Looking back over this blog I am reminded of music, films, videos, news, cartoons and illustrations that I would have long forgotten about (what with my memory being as shot away as it seems to be) so it functions as a superior ‘aide-memoir’ if nothing else! I do appreciate those of you who take time out to visit and comment on my posts.

On this note, here are a couple of things that have pleased me this week, one is a great track from Blur that perfectly describes how my life seems to be – whizzing past at a rate of knots, (March already?!) with the great danger that I don’t take time to stop and ‘smell the roses’. (Thanks to ‘Papersurfer’ for reminding me of it)

I watched the movie ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’ again this weekend and fell in love with Javier Bardem all over again. The man is a god. (He is also the second most popular search term that people use to find my blog so no harm in mentioning him again, is there?) And the answer is – yes. I would be off to Oviedo like a shot….

While I’m at it, I might as well mention THE most popular search term is……*drum roll* …..Sylvie Guillem. She is quite simply stunning. Enough said, see for yourself. Russel Maliphant is pretty amazing too…

Maybe I should just turn this into a ‘celebrity news’ blog and be done with it. Or shall I just talk about George Clooney over and over again? (Cue gratuitous photograph of the man himself…)


Back in the real world, my gorgeous god-daughter visited this weekend to discuss the wedding album I am going to make for her and her husband. We looked through nearly 900 wedding photographs trying to decide which should go into the album – not an easy task. Then we had to choose materials to match her wedding stationery. I am now on a mission to get the website I am working on finished so I can begin her album. So having had my ‘timeout’ for today, I am going to get back to work after a thoroughly self indulgent post…



Where there’s a Will….

I’ve just returned from Stratford on Avon. It was my sister’s birthday. A BIG birthday made all the more disconcerting because she is my younger sister and the less reminders I have the of how old I am, the better! I made her an album for her birthday, which involved the inevitable trawl through old family photographs. The bad hair do’s, the shocking clothes, Memory Lane can be quite a terrifying place to walk down. I also dug out some old home movie footage which was originally Super 8 film which I had transferred onto DVD. Quite hilarious. Memories of so many family outings –  I can only think that every time my dad said ‘Do something for the camera’, we flung ourselves off whatever rock or wall we were standing on onto a beach or we did a cartwheel. In Scotland, in Wales, in Cornwall, in our garden – always the same. Here is a photograph of me and two of my three sisters (presumably just before we threw ourselves off the sea wall at Blackpool). I’m the tallest and birthday girl is the cutie in the middle.

This is the album I made for her.

We had a lovely family party at a hotel just outside Stratford on Avon. Yesterday, we had a very quick trip into Stratford to see the sights. It always astonishes me that William Shakespeare’s birthplace is still standing there on a busy shopping street.

We had a very quick walk along the River Avon by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It is undergoing a huge renovation project so it is currently covered in scaffolding and camouflage. It normally looks like this

but at the moment looks like this

Here are a few more shots of the visit.

This last guy was one of those performance artists who stood as still as a statue until someone approached him to take his photograph and then he leaped off his box and frightened the life out of them. I’m not sure Will would have approved.

To round off, (tenuous link alert) this is a calligram I did a few years ago. I repeated the phrase ‘As You Like It’ to make this image of the great man himself. Click on it to enlarge.