Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Television

Hamming it up…

I was lucky enough to be invited to spend the weekend with friends who have a house in Devon near Salcombe. This part of Devon, for those of who don’t know it, is gorgeous. It’s called South Hams and the area is very green and pretty with its own microclimate which makes it a very popular holiday destination. It’s also a wonderful coastline for sailing as there are lots of picturesque towns and villages along the coast with marinas or mooring facilities. I have spent many a happy weekend pootling out to sea from Dartmouth, once sailing down to the beautiful Helford River in Cornwall, calling in at Salcombe, Fowey, Newton Ferrers, Bigbury on Sea and Burgh Island…all fabulous places.

Last weekend, the weather wasn’t brilliant – there were big black clouds but it didn’t rain despite the threatening sky and we had a wonderful time anyway. We even had a barbecue despite the cold wind. Well, the chaps barbecued and we ladies stayed inside…

On Saturday,we walked from Gara Rock round to Salcombe, a fairly vertiginous cliff path in parts but I kept my mind off the scary sheer drops by taking photographs of the stunning scenery. Click all images to enlarge.

The start of the walk at Gara Rock

It was especially scenic as the cliffs were covered in bluebells and other wild flowers.

The wind can be very fierce as you can see from the shape of this wind swept tree.

The path did come perilously close to the cliff edge at times…

Eventually as we walked along into Salcombe, we walked along the estuary and past sandy beaches. The sea was bright turquoise despite (or because of) the back clouds gathering overhead.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, on Monday morning when I opened the curtains to begin packing to go home, I was confronted by this…clear blue skies and sunshine.

The other excitement in my life has been the small matter of the General Election. Utterly absorbing and for once, completely riveting. I have never watched so much news or read so many newspapers as I have during the last few weeks. I resorted to checking the live election blogs of the Guardian and the Times online news web sites on my iPhone so I could follow the wheeling and dealing going on over the weekend while I was away. I went up to London by train on Tuesday and all the conversations were of the election. I have never known the country to be so gripped by politics.

And now we are left with the election for the new leader of the Labour party to entertain us. As I write the only candidates are the ‘Mili-band of brothers’ (not my joke I’m afraid, but I’m happy to steal it) which should interesting. Then I really must get back to work….

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A brief pause…

Beryl Cook - LADIES WHO LUNCH

Ladies Who Lunch - Beryl Cook

Another hectic week. It amuses me that occasionally I get called ‘a lady who lunches’ because I don’t go out to work every day, whereas in reality, some days I am so busy I forget to have lunch. This week was one of those weeks.

It was my god daughter’s wedding on Friday 2nd, so I had to drive up to Tetbury in the morning. Just before I set off, #2 son rang me from Heathrow airport – he was going to a wedding in Santa Barbara. He told me that he had just put a CD of photographs in the mail to me – they were the photographs of his 4 month long trip to South East Asia earlier in the year and he needed them sorting and binding into an album to give as a ‘thank you’ gift. He needed them if possible by Friday 9th, bit of a tall order but I said I would do my best.

The wedding was lovely. The venue – a converted barn in the middle of the countryside was gorgeous and my god daughter looked divine. I had been asked to do a reading – that seemed to go well. All in all, a great day and a good chance to catch up with some old friends I hadn’t seen for a long time.

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I came home the next day and found the CD of photographs waiting for me. There were 412 photographs (selected from thousands that my son and his three friends had taken on the trip) and I then spent the next 5 days sorting, tweaking, arranging, cutting, glueing, printing and binding (and screaming and swearing at) the album. I worked late into the night and got up early each day, determined to meet the deadline. I was using QuarkXpress to layout the images – and it kept crashing and freezing and at one point I lost 5 hours work when it crashed and I found it hadn’t been autosaving (hence the cussing and screaming) but I eventually finished – but missed the deadline to post it to London in time by two hours. So frustrating. To make matters worse, as I had now missed the deadline, annoyingly it meant that I actually now had 2 weeks before the next opportunty to give it to the people it was a gift for, so all my rushing had been for nothing. On the positive side, it turned out really well and I am very pleased with it.

It is covered with black leather which is embossed with a snakeskin effect. The paper inside the cover is a handmade paper that my son brought back from Laos and I made a box for it covered with black silk bookcloth. It’s larger than other albums I have made – A3 sized but it looks fab – even if I do say so myself.

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Yesterday, I put the finishing touches to another wedding album I have been working on – three times. The album was made and I was happy with that but I ended up covering the box with three different coloured book cloths. The first two times, I wasn’t happy with it so I tore the bookcloth off and started again. The third time I got it right. Can’t show you that one yet as I don’t want to spoil the surprise for the bride and groom who will not be seeing it until next week so that will have to wait for my next post.

Last night, I went to a diamond wedding anniversary party – the couple were celebrating 60 years of marriage. We had thought it might be a quiet affair after all, the couple were in their 80s but not a bit of it. We partied until 3am (and were not the last people to leave) I just hope I have that much stamina if I make it to 80 years old. You will excuse me if I am a little fragile today…

So I am having a day away from bookbinding, I am watching Doris Day in ‘Calamity Jane’ and putting my feet up. I have a cup of tea and a stem ginger shortbread biscuit and I’m working my way through the Sunday Times. It all begins again tomorrow….

What else?

I know you will think this is just another excuse for a gratuitous George Clooney photo and you are probably right but hey! it’s my blog, right? And there is a reason for mentioning him – a tenuous reason I know, but read on and you will see why I mention him….

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I’ve never been a big coffee drinker. I went off it big style when I was pregnant with my first son and never really rediscovered my liking for it. This all changed when I was in Los Angeles last year, the apartment I was staying in had a Nespresso machine and I was hooked. My son, also impressed, bought me one for a gift and now I drink a wonderful latte every morning – delish! Of course the fact that Nespresso use George Clooney in their advertisements has nothing to do with my sudden passion for coffee – although it is yet one more thing George and I have in common :-)

I am reminded of gorgeous George as I am off to Cannes on Saturday for the film festival. I’ve never been before but my friend Claire’s movie is being premiered so we are going to see the film and to do some partying. It will be a short visit as I am getting up at the crack of dawn on Monday to fly to Geneva to rendezvous with my friend Edwina and we are then travelling to Crans Montana to begin our epic road trip to Barcelona and then Mallorca.

It will be so good to see some warm sunshine (I hope).  I love the Mediterranean but it is interesting to note that one of the places I used to go for days out when I was a child living in Manchester, is trying to attract French visitors. It’s a great many years since I last visited Blackpool – my memories are of bitterly cold winds, grey skies and a brown sea. Although they are stuck with the weather,  I’m sure the town itself will have improved –  here is the latest ad campaign by the Blackpool Tourist Board. In the immortal words of John McEnroe ‘You cannot be serious!’

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Now then, I need your help. I’ve been invited to do a reading at my god-daughter’s wedding in October. I wouldn’t be MY first choice of people to wax lyrical on the joys of love and marriage but I will do my best. I’ve been searching for something suitable to read, it has to be a secular reading – and not too mushy (remember it’s me reading it!) I found this extract from ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ by Louis de Bernières which I think is rather nice.

“Love is a temporary madness,
it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides.
And when it subsides you have to make a decision.
You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together
that it is inconceivable that you should ever part.
Because this is what love is.
Love is not breathlessness,
it is not excitement,
it is not the promulgation of eternal passion.
That is just being “in love” which any fool can do.
Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away,
and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.
Those that truly love have roots that grow towards each other underground,
and when all the pretty blossoms have fallen from their branches,
they find that they are one tree and not two.”

Any other suggestions will be very gratefully received!

Now, I’m off to pack, it takes several packings and unpackings before I am ready to go, so I need to start early! See you in a couple of weeks.

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 ;-)

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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….

Happy New Year!

Well, I’m back. Christmas and New Year passed off very smoothly and enjoyably – ate too much, drank too much, watched too many movies but I am actually facing the New Year (despite the downbeat news) with optimism and equanimity, I am going to make it a good one. It was great to spend time with my boys and my lovely friends. Santa must have thought I had been a good girl last year, as he was extraordinarily generous and somehow managed to get a new 24″  iMac down my chimney. 

The dog loved having the boys home as much as I did, and he adored having two large creatures willing to roll about on the floor with him and brave the arctic conditions to chase around the garden and take him to the beach. Boy toys as opposed to toy boys, I guess. Now they have returned home, Milo sits looking at me with a tragic look on his face whimpering quietly, wondering why I am such a boring replacement ( answer – because I am playing with my iMac…..)

 I haven’t been blogging (what do you mean you hadn’t noticed?!) but I have been spending an inordinate amount of time on Facebook. Yesterday I decided to delete all the outstanding ‘notifications’ (almost 60), so apologies if you sent me ‘Karma’ , a plant for my Lil’ green patch, an invitation to play poker, scrabble or a war game, or just wanted to poke, hug or throw a sheep at me, but there were so many I decided to start afresh. New Year and all that….sorry.

The new year has begun on a very good note. I was very gratified to read that it is a really bad idea to go on a diet at the moment, what with the flu epidemic and the horrid sickness (and worse) lurgy doing the rounds, apparently if you are on a diet,  your body’s ability to fight off the viruses is reduced. Read more here. So that’s one less resolution to have to worry about breaking. 

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More good news is that Andy Murray has just won an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi defeating both Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the way. And the BBC are announcing who the new Doctor Who will be in 30 minutes in a special program on BBC 1 – all very exciting.

I’ve also been asked to do several web design projects and a big bookbinding project which I will tell you about in a  few weeks time. Who knows? Maybe my ‘hobbies’ will start to earn me some money – which would be a fine thing indeed.

I found a really funny image which keeps making me laugh…

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So it’s been a really good start to the year. I hope yours has begun as well and I wish you lots of wonderfulness for 2009. The best New Year wishes I read were two both by the great Neil Gaiman

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.” 

“…I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be,  be wise, and that you will always be kind.” 

Wonderful. You can’t put it better than that, can you? 

Happy New Year everyone.

Later : Ooh, couldn’t wait so I have seen who new Doctor Who is and thought I would tell you all…it’s ……..Matt Smith. Matt Smith? Who?

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Ooh I’m not sure about this at all. My year might have just gone pear-shaped already…