Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: Videos

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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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…



Excuses, excuses

Well, the huge mountain of ‘things that need doing’ which I have been trying to run away from (and which must be attached to me by a long length of elastic) has finally smacked me in the back of the head and I have been forced into doing something about it. Consequently, I have been working on the e-commerce web site I am designing for a friend and am almost cross eyed with the twin joys of html and css. The site will eventually sell hand crafted jewellery and the other thing I have been doing this week (and continue to do) is processing dozens and dozens and dozens of photographs (which I confess up front – I took) which are basically not very good so they need lots of TLC and Photoshop to make them useable. Removing backgrounds, adjusting colours, removing specks (hint- always clean computer screen before starting THIS job) cropping and more cropping – it has been endless. Still, I think it is taking shape and starting to look very good (even if I do say so myself.)

So not much else to report. I am continuing to post a photograph to my 365pix project every day because that is quick and easy but I may have to go AWOL here for a bit while I concentrate on getting the web site finished. Sorry I’m not checking out your blogs at the moment too. Anyway to avoid this post being a complete waste of time for you, here are a few random things I found today while I was putting off starting work (still procrastinating)

  • I read this on the BBC web site today.

“In 1778, the third Duke of Chandos arranged a christening for his new-born son. The whole of fashionable society, including the Royal Family, was invited, and the Duke commissioned a lavishly embroidered christening robe. At the moment of baptism the child was uncovered and found to have suffocated under weight of the robe, upon which the Duke died of shock.”

  • I have already put this on my Facebook page, it never fails to make me smile, so I am adding here too. Love it.
  • I found this photograph yesterday of my youngest son when he was tiny. I adore it..

That’s it. Back to work!

….AND relax…..

I’ve done quite a lot since I last wrote here. So much so that I’m only going to give you potted highlights otherwise you will lose the will to live before you are half way through.

  • I was invited to a Charity Gala dinner in London on Friday 30th October, the highlight of which was the after dinner speaker – President Bill Clinton. He spoke about the charity work he does through the William J Clinton Foundation and particularly mentioned Kiva a cause I support already and recommend (link in my sidebar).

  • We mooched around Portobello Road market (as seen in the film ‘Notting Hill’) on Saturday as rather amazingly, I had never been there – great fun. We came back from London on Sunday as I had a meeting. I mention this because I then rushed back up to London on Monday morning to spend some time with my #2 son for my birthday
  • He and I finally got to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition at the Royal Academy – it was fabulous. Really enjoyed it.

Anish Kapoor and 'Yellow' at the Royal Academy

  • We went to see Simon Lynge – a very gifted singer songwriter who comes from Greenland. It was the launch party for his new album to be released in February. He was very good indeed. See for yourself. I love this song which is his single.
  • Rushed back from London (again) in time to go out for with lunch with some friends and #1 son for my birthday.
  • Spent my birthday packing as I was going to Spain to stay with a friend early the next day.
  • Had a wonderful holiday in Sayalonga, a small hilltop village in the mountains behind Malaga. We had several hair raising trips out along winding mountain roads tracks to visit pretty towns and to admire astonishing views.

Sayalonga

One highlight of the trip  was a visit to the Caves at Nerja Рpossibly the best thing I have ever seen Рutterly awesome. Here is a photograph which you can click on to see a large version. They have concerts in these caves in the summer (if you zoom in you can see the seating) Рdefinitely added to my list of things to do. Opera in these caves would be astonishing.

One thing that can now be ticked off my list of things to do, was the other highlight of my trip – a visit to the Alhambra in Granada. If the Caves at Nerja are an example of nature at it’s most magnificent, then the Alhambra is an example of how sublimely beautiful some of man’s creations can be. It’s truly breathtaking. Here is a slide show of the photographs I took.

  • The weather in Spain was beautiful – cool in the mornings and evenings but in the 70s and sunny during the day. I arrived back in the UK to torrential rain and howling gales – which has continued and shows no signs of going away. Just as well that I have been thrown back into the deep end with the latest iteration of the record company book project. With only three days to work on it before it had to be packaged up and sent to Seattle and as there were major re-writes and design changes, it was a manic weekend. Fedex have given me several highly stressful moments which I could have well done without but hopefully I (and they) made the deadline.

So now I am working on a couple of websites. One, my first e-commerce site for a friend who makes jewellery will be a fun project and hopefully the experience will help me when I get round to designing my own website for selling my books and photograph albums.

If I ever have the time to do it…

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.

elise1elise2

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.

benalbum1benalbum2benalbum4benalbum5

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….