Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Shopping

A nice day out

I had such a nice day yesterday. My girlie mate, Amanda, suggested we had a girls’ day out and we decided to go to Totnes in Devon. We chose Totnes as some friends, Sarah and Joe, have an art gallery there called White Space. It’s a really lovely gallery, selling a wonderful range of contemporary art. We went to see their Summer Exhibition which started yesterday. It was really excellent – you can view it online here. It was hard to choose a favourite but here are two I particularly liked – the first is ‘Peonies’ by Sarah Bowman and ‘Misty River Dart’ by Wendy McBride.

Of course, no girlie day out is complete without lots of shopping and a nice lunch. We managed to find both. After some very successful clothes shopping (a skirt, a top and a gorgeous little flimsy cardigan/wrap thing) I was thrilled to find a small but wonderful stationery shop called ‘Paperworks’ – a little gem and I bought some very pretty papers which you will no doubt see adorning some new books over the next few weeks. After a walk by the river and a cup of tea and a piece of carrot cake (Diet? What diet?) we decided to head for home but on the way back we stopped off in Lyme Regis, a beautiful little seaside town, on the Dorset/Devon border. You may remember Lyme Regis as the setting for the book/film ‘The French Lieutenant’s Woman’

The harbour wall where Meryl Streep is walking is known as the Cobb and dates back to the 13th century. Amanda and I walked the length of the sea front, past some very pretty thatched cottages and houses which I suspect are holiday homes, to the Cobb and then walked to the end of the Cobb to pose for our ‘Meryl Streep’ moment. It was quite breezy as you can tell from the windswept hairstyles, so no clues as to my new hair do just yet…

The views are quite spectacular. We could see across Lyme Bay to Burton Bradstock, which as you may know is my favourite local beach (see my header photo). The whole coastline here is called the Jurassic Coast, as it is full of fossils. We were amused to notice the lamp posts are all decorated with ammonite motifs to celebrate the rich heritage of this pretty and historic town.

Of course, by now we were hungry again so we bought a bag of chips to fortify us on our journey back home. All in all, a splendid day. So here for your delectation and delight are highlights of our day out (not including the shopping successes and the chips….)

Incidentally, I want to mention a competition I won over at Go Smell the Flowers a while back. Jim and Em regularly run competitions, the current one is to win some Belgian chocolates, by suggesting/inventing a new Olympic event. The prize I won was a year’s supply of flowers from Flora 2000. I have sent some as birthday and Mothers’ Day gifts and they have been absolutely beautiful causing much joy and earning me big Brownie points. I’m going to keep the rest for myself, I think. So thank you, Jim and Em, the prize is being much enjoyed.

And finally…a couple of things I found while Stumbling around. This must truly be the most disgusting snack ever invented. If you know of a worse one, I’d be intrigued to hear about it. Here it is.

A Krispy Kreme donut bacon cheeseburger. I can feel my arteries furring up just looking at the photograph. And next, today’s lesson.

Oops.

Anyways, amazingly the sun is shining so I am off into the garden to try and make a start on my tan before my upcoming holidays. Of which more next time…..

I just had to add this which I received from my friend in Los Angeles, Claire and then read about in the Sunday Times here. Watch the frogs which are quite clever and amusing and then keep watching. You will be astonished.

Where the wild things are…

Well, hello there, I’m back! I have so much to tell you I don’t know where to begin. The new haircut? The holiday plans? My meeting up with an old friend? The lovely walks?  No, it has to be my excuse for my absence. After #2 son’s graduation, he came back home with me and we have been hanging out together before he heads off again. It’s been a nice reminder of how life used to be, having a boy with a bottomless pit for a stomach in the house again, it’s been one long round of cooking, food shopping and laundry, movies, music and cooking. And more laundry.

The graduation ceremony was a great thrill for me and the rest of the family. I thought I would explode with pride. My son looked so handsome in his gown (minus cap, you will notice. Apparently, the graduates had been throwing them into the air for photographs after the ceremony and it was thought that was too dangerous – someone had hurt their eye a year or so ago, so political correctness prevailed and they were banned apart from in the official studio portraits – utter madness.)

My two sons and my ex and I, had a great few days in Leeds, it really is a fun city with lots of great shopping  (unless you are shopping with/for two very fussy sons – and I thought women were supposed to be bad!) and restaurants. We had one particularly wonderful dinner at a restaurant called Anthony’s which was a bit ‘Heston Blumenthal’ if you know what I mean! Every dish had at least one ingredient that made you say ‘What?!’ (risotto of white onion, parmesan air and espresso? Or poached quail, pea sorbet, cocoa, morels? Or how about my dessert of apple parfait, pork filo and sage ice cream?) We were all totally amazed at how delicious it all was, in fact we would go so far as to say it was one of the best (if not the best) dinner we had ever eaten.

Since we returned, #2 son has spent his days fishing in the river which runs through our garden – amazingly he actually managed to catch a fish yesterday (which he threw back). I don’t know who was more surprised #2 son, me or the fish! He saw an otter in the river while he was fishing but by the time he had shouted me to come and look, it had gone – probably terrified by the loud shouting coming from the river bank :-)

We did manage to spot a fox in the field next to my garden. Apparently, it has four fox cubs which we haven’t managed to see yet but the mother fox comes out every evening for a walk around the field. We managed to catch some shots of her including this one of the fox eyeing up a crow which seemed quite oblivious.

I love the view into the field, as do some others it seems…

We have had a really fun time since we got back from Leeds. I’m very conscious that these times together are going to be much rarer in the future. My nest will be well and truly empty. On the bright side I will have lots of time to make books and play tennis… (knee is finally better, by the way). I have been working on a photo album which I am making as a gift for a friend whose daughter is about to give birth to a little girl – my friend’s first grandchild. Here is a sneak preview.

By the way, an update on my garden furniture saga. PayPal finally decided in my favour and have refunded me £500 which is the most they can, the balance is still to come from the dodgy seller, (Gemma at Land of Sofas) so I’m not holding my breath. I was contacted by someone else who read about my problems here, she had also bought furniture from this wretched woman but had been too late to file a claim with PayPal, so she stands to lose all her money.

When I was searching for alternative garden furniture, I found a web site selling the same furniture, under a different name (Home Living Online) but I could tell from the telephone number that it was the same people. Please do not buy from this company. I have reported them to the Trading Standards people and I hope that they will stop them from swindling any more unsuspecting customers.

Well, it’s nice to be back blogging and I have missed my visits to my blogging friends – thank you for your concern at my absence, but fret not!  #2 son is off on holiday next week so the house will be quiet again and I can get back into a routine. Books and blogging here I come….

Storm clouds over Dorset….

I try not to use this blog too often as a personal forum for all my pet peeves, personal traumas and disasters however, every once in a while something happens and I just have to explode! Back in April, I thought I was being very clever and bought some garden furniture from an eBay shop. It was a very good price (but still quite expensive -£600 or so). I still haven’t received the furniture.

Here we are at the beginning of July and my garden is still bare. I am furious. Particularly as the company that sold it to me (Land of Sofas based in Poole – be warned!) are now no longer registered as an eBay seller and do not communicate with me at all, and all their contact details are no longer available on eBay.

I managed to track them down and have contacted them several times. The girl I spoke to (Gemma) is always very short with me and seemed irritated I am bothering her. She has given me several dates for delivery, which have passed with no apologies or explanations, so I opened a dispute with PayPal and they are investigating the situation but as time goes by and our very short summer whizzes past, I am still furniture-less. My lovely big sons keep offering to go round and sort her out, as Poole isn’t too far from where I live (she signed off with her home address when she initially contacted me after the sale) but I am resisting their offer and attempting to do things through proper channels but if all else fails, I may go round there myself (with sons and a couple of their taller, even more scary friends) to discuss my refund!

The annoying thing is that the seller does appear to have lots of positive feedback but on closer investigation, most of it is for selling some sports drink bottles. All the feedback for the garden furniture they have sold in the past, says how long they had to wait for delivery and a lot of those people demanded refunds. The lesson from all this is to read the feedback properly. Don’t just look at the high positive feedback score and assume all is well. That’s the end of the lesson, I’ll keep you posted with any developments.

Anyway, rant over. A nice thing this week, has been reading the new ‘Top 101 Artists’ Blogs’ list over at Kim’s blog. Kim very deservedly (especially since her blog redesign) is at number 1, Emila’s lovely blog is at number 2 and guess who is number 3? Yes, moi! It’s such a phenomenal amount of work to update this list every month (particularly given the vagaries of Technorati) so I do recommend you head over there to check out some great art blogs. Kim was also sweet enough to pass on to me one of the many awards she has received recently – the Friendly Blogger award – well I try to be! Thanks Kim!

I’m going to pass this on to a couple of new commentators here at ‘Much of a muchness’ , 70’s teen and Daddy Papersurfer. If you read their blogs you will see why I enjoy reading them so much. And they are indeed, very friendly bloggers :-)

As I write this, there are gale force winds and rain sodden grey skies above, but does this stop #2 son from lighting the barbecue and cooking the ribs he so lovingly prepared last night? Indeed it does not. He is outside wearing shorts, a jacket and a woolly hat, cooking our lunch before we settle down to watch the tennis at Wimbledon (ladies final – the Williams sisters – should be a good one).

After the tennis, #2 son is going out (to play golf would you believe!) and I am settling in to watch Doctor Who – series finale, cliffhanger ending last week, Martha, Rose, Donna, Daleks, Davros  and all the Torchwood team, especially lovely John Barrowman aka Captain Jack – I can barely wait – 5 hours 20 minutes to go……

I was supposed to be going to a picnic at Mapperton listening to Cuban Salsa music tonight but that is looking like a non-starter so more TV it is….and then tomorrow, the Men’s Final, Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal, the dream final! Woo hoo!

Couch potato? Moi?

Come on over to my place

I like this paper. I will confess I relented and bought some more from Paper Source as I still can’t find a source of funky modern designs here in the UK. However, I have found another good supplier of lovely paper called the Paper Studio. They are based in Tempe, Arizona and the studio is a teaching studio and paper arts shop created and run by Cindy and Gary who are mixed media and book and paper artists’. It’s no good, I am just going to have to move to the USA.

I have been tagged by Kylee over at Bijoux and Banter to tell you all about my studio. I think calling it a studio is over stating it a bit, it’s more of a work room. I do have to confess though that in the interests of making my fledgling business sound a bit more groovy and professional than it actually is, I have called it Limetree Studio. This is a business card which uses a photograph I took in my garden last summer.

Artist name: Diane Aldred

Business name: Limetree Studio

Website/blog: This is it! New one on the way. Honest.

Do you have a dedicated studio/artistic space? Yes. I used to work in my kitchen but I moved to a spare bedroom.

Where is it located? On the top floor of my house.

Is it a large or small space? It’s quite big, it doubles as a study and all my books are up there as well as a TV and a sofa.

What medium(s) do you work in? Paper, I am an addict.

Do you have a separate area for each? If I was organized I would have a separate area for gluing as keeping glue under control is the bane of my life.

What one word would you use to describe your studio? Comfortable.

What do you think is the best feature of your studio? My plan chest keeps me organized.

What would you change if you could? I’d buy more storage so it was tidier.

Can you share an organisational tip? Tidy as you go (that’s rich coming from me…..)

Describe the usual state of your work table? A disaster zone

Does your work table face out into the room or toward the wall? Towards the wall (which has a large painting of my lovely boys on it) and which I am going to paint soon (as soon as I can get someone to help me move the plan chest…..)

What’s one drawback of your studio/artistic space? It’s too far from the kitchen (2 floors away) so I am constantly running up and down stairs to make tea/answer the door.

Do you have an idea wall or inspiration board? No. I take inspiration from the papers I buy.

Do you listen to music in your studio? Yes, loud music which I sing along to.

Do you display your own work in your studio? No

Other artists’ work? I have paintings on the wall.

What’s one quirk or unusual feature of your studio?
My desk where my laptop is, is always tidy but my book making work space is very untidy. Not sure why….

Whose studio space would you like to read about? I would like to tag the following artists to reveal their studio spaces….

Kim at Laketrees.

Astrid at Tulibri

Amy Hanks

Jane at My Wooden Robot

And now for my weekend. Click on all images for a larger version.

I had a lovely weekend. The weather was fantastic, warm and sunny. I went for a walk around the Fleet on Sunday and then stopped for lunch at a pub in Langton Herring. I must confess I ended up watching TV as it was the last match of the football season and my team Manchester United were tied for first place at the top of the Premier League so everything depended on this last day of matches. Without boring you with too many details, suffice it to say, my boys won the title for the 17th time. All in all, a fantastic day.

I’m off to London for a couple of days tomorrow. I’m meeting up with some old friends who are visiting from Australia. The last time I saw them was about 6 years ago and before that I hadn’t seen them for about 20 odd years. I just hope the trains don’t let me down this time…..

A Fleeting Glimpse of Dorset

I went up to London yesterday. I won’t bore you with the tedium of the journey there and back but suffice it to say it was a sorry catalogue of delays, misinformation and outright porkie pies.

Example, on journey home:

Announcement 1: ‘delay is due to operational misunderstandings at Waterloo Station’.

Announcement 2: ‘delay was due to an electrical storm in the Wimbledon area’

Announcement 3: ‘delay due to major signalling problems just outside the station’

Drives me mad especially as on the way there, the train was 30 minutes late because there was a problem with the train doors which meant they decided not to stop at all between Southampton and London. ‘Hurrah!’ the passengers cried, ‘A faster journey!’ -until the train ground to a complete halt and just sat there for 30 minutes.

Anyway, I had a nice time in London. Falkiners is even more yummy than usual as they seem to have had a bit of a re-organisation and all the lovely papers are now catalogued beautifully so that you can see everything they have in stock and not just the relatively small number of papers on display. Result? I spent probably twice as much as I would have otherwise – genius!

I then walked to Paperchase on Tottenham Court Road and bought some more paper and then walked to Liberty to buy a birthday gift for a friend and yes-you’ve guessed it yet more paper! Surprisingly, Liberty had a really good range of Japanese Chiyogami papers and some pretty gift wrap. So it was a very successful shopping expedition.

I’m sorry I’ve been AWOL this last couple of days and especially sorry I haven’t been responding to your comments but yesterday, I met up with some girlie mates at a friend’s house and we had a very pleasant time making books. I showed them how to make ribbon books a month or so ago and they have caught the bug! It was really interesting to see their different approaches to materials and their ideas for extending what you can do with the books. It might even galvanize me into trying something new!

Last night I went for a long walk with a friend. We drove to a village called Langton Herring which is a mile or so inland from the Fleet and Chesil Beach. I’ve mentioned Chesil Beach before. It is a shingle beach which is 18 miles long and runs from Portland to West Bay. The stones on the beach are much larger at the Portland end and gradually decrease in size towards West Bay. It used to be said that sailors who were washed up on the beach could tell where they were by the size of the shingle. For 8 miles of it’s length, the beach encloses a lagoon called the Fleet. It’s famous because it is where Barnes Wallis tested the bouncing bombs which were used in the famous Dam busters raid during World War 2.

This is a photograph of the Fleet and Chesil Beach I took last year.

The walk from Langton Herring on a cool sunny evening was quite spectacular. It was silent apart from the sounds of skylarks singing and seagulls calling. The lambs in the fields were playing and leaping about, some of the field were bright yellow with oilseed rape. And when we arrived at the Fleet, the water was flat calm and the sun was setting, it was so peaceful and beautiful. here are some of the photographs I took. You can click on each thumbnail to see a larger version.

The other good news is that Abbotsbury Swannery which is also on the Fleet and had to close earlier in the year because of bird flu, has now re-opened and has just had the first cygnets hatch! Apparently, this has happened much earlier than usual and as the arrival of the first baby swan is said to herald the first day of summer, this is good news indeed!

This gorgeous image is by Geoffrey Franklin of Christchurch, Dorset and was taken from a slide show of his swannery images on the BBC website.