Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: web design

New year, new start, new dawn

Having wound up my 365 photo blog project last week, I have decided I really need to resurrect ‘Much of a Muchness’. I also thought that as I would like it be a combination of photoblog and general waffle, I needed a new layout too. This one enables me to post much wider images than the old theme – which I have had for three four years now. (Good grief, in February I will have been blogging for FOUR years – where did that time go?) So this is one possibility…it may yet change again. The photograph above is one of my favourites from the 365 photoblog – taken at dawn on a snowy day just after Christmas.

I think I’m going to aim for weekly posts, that should be do-able, committing to daily posts is just too stressful and once posting becomes a chore then it is time to stop and ease off. So. Where to begin? The New Year didn’t start well for various horrible reasons but now seems to have settled down a bit and if it would just stop raining then I think I could almost be feeling quite cheerful. I have been busy which is always a good thing and have finally got a website featuring my work up – although again, this is a bit of an experiment using Indexhibit and I will probably change it as I found it a bit cumbersome and restrictive to use. You can see it here.

Note: Oops. This was sitting on my WordPress dashboard, half finished and I published it accidentally while explaining to a client over the phone how to publish a post on WordPress. That’s why all the dates are to pot and it is only a very short post! Still, maybe these happen for a reason and I will now attempt to live up to the above.

Incidentally, it did stop raining, I am feeling cheerful and I am still busy :-)

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A blistering time…

I’m feeling very sorry for myself today. About 10 days ago, I was playing tennis at a friend’s house and it was a beautiful sunny day. Idyllic you might think, except for lots of small flies which were flying around the court and even worse – biting us. I must have had a bad reaction to the bites because the next day, I had 6 bites which turned into blisters and then continued to grow. I looked like I had bubonic plague of the leg. I won’t go into too much detail about the ‘bursting blisters on cream trousers while on shopping expedition’ scenario, suffice to say, it was very embarrassing and itchy/painful as well. The blisters were just starting to heal when it was time to play tennis again.

This time, I wore cropped tracksuit trousers (not only to hide the ugly sores but to keep my legs covered in case the flies were around again) and I covered the small part of my legs which were still showing with insect repellant spray. The little buggers must have found the only square inch that I missed and have bitten me twice and I now have two nice fresh humungeous blisters again. They hurt and itch like crazy and as they are so close together, the effect seems twice as bad as before. I now have antibiotics to try and get rid of them once and for all – and when I play tennis next Monday, I am going to wear a full beekeepers suit. I’ll keep this image small so as not to frighten you too much…it’s quite disgusting.

Anyway, before I was eaten alive, I’d been having quite a jolly time. I’m trying to remember what I have been doing since my last post and my photoblog is as good a reminder as anything, so apologies if you’ve seen some of this before!

I visited the Hampton Court Flower Show with some friends and we all loved this garden seat which was somehow woven out of growing bamboo.

I went to a ‘Back to the ’80s’ open air concert with my sister and niece in Shrewsbury which was great fun. We saw Go West, ABC, Rick Astley, Tony Hadley and Howard Jones – it was a really fun evening and great to hear all the old songs again. The highlight for me was seeing Peter Cox, the lead singer with Go West who just seems to improve with age. I swear he is much more gorgeous now than 30 years ago and his voice is amazing. I’ll even forgive him the ear ring…

I’ve been to an air show – the Royal International Air Tattoo and saw some rather amazing planes in action. Particulary awestruck by the F22 – Raptor, a mere £4 million.

I went to see ‘Inception’ which I really enjoyed and now need to see again to work out just what was going on – such a good film. And it had Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe in it….

I went AWOL for a day and had a girlie shopping expedition/lunch/afternoon tea in Exeter.

Exeter Cathedral

I went sailing with a group of friends in Weymouth Bay. The weather was pretty rubbish but it was quite breezy so we had a good sail and a lovely picnic while moored in Portland Harbour.

In between all this I have been working very hard on some web sites I have been asked to create so it’s not all fun and games. Honest.

To finish, I must share with you the work of a wonderful sculptor I discovered yesterday. She’s called Annawili Highfield and this is from her website. Do check out her work, the paper sculptures are especially astonishing.

It’s all go….

Yet again I have to apologise for a long absence, I’ve had a very busy couple of weeks. I finished the website I was making for a friend who makes polymer clay jewellery. It’s my first e-commerce website called Al-Andalus Creations, it went live last week and he has started selling the jewellery and it all seems to be working as it should which is a huge relief. I also set up a blog for him today and he has a Facebook fan page, so it’s all go! Here’s a screenshot of the home page.

Please visit, and even better buy some :-)

I also helped my young friend Jemima Hunt bind another book for her uni illustration course. You might remember she did a set of illustrations for the book ‘Roverandom’ by J.R.R.Tolkien and we bound the book last year. For her extended final project, she has been making collages to illustrate a children’s story she has written called ‘Tomatoes’. It is SO good. You can read about the making of ‘Tomatoes’ on her blog but here are some photographs I took during the process.

Bear in mind all these illustrations were originally  collages – they are so clever.

I have just finished the wedding album I am making for my god daughter and her husband. I am really pleased with it. It is A3 size and the wedding photographs I have printed out look wonderful. I sent to Paper Source in the US for the book cloth and it was well worth the wait as it has turned out very well. Can’t show you photographs of that as she hasn’t seen it yet but here’s a sneak peek of one of the pages…

I’ve also been putting the finishing touches to another website, this one for a wool shop in Weymouth called ‘Spin a Yarn’.  They have a selection of baby shawls for sale which are hand knitted by the staff and they are so pretty. They are also going to be selling crocheted throws – have a look at those too!

I’ve also been trying to keep my photoblog up to date each day which I must confess is proving harder than I anticipated. I have had to resort to trawling through my iPhoto library when I haven’t had time to get out and take a new image and am fast running out of suitable images. It’s a very good discipline and is making me be more discriminating about the thousands of photographs I have in my library (not to mention the thousands of photographs in boxes which aren’t digital). I was just having a rummage through a large box of old photos to find a particular one.

Yesterday was my youngest son’s 24th birthday. As usual, my ex rang me up to wish me a happy birthday – a tradition he started when my first son was born and he has continued to do ever since. As he says, in a way it’s my ‘birth’ day too :-)  Here’s the photograph I was looking for,  the birthday boy aged about 9 months. Soooo cute.

Well, that’s news of lots of projects coming to an end, my plan now is to finally get round to making a website for ME! What’s that saying? ‘The best laid plans of mice and men…..’ – we shall see :-)

PS I have been nominated in the ‘Best little blog’ awards over at Dorset Cereals (who make my favourite muesli and porridge) – you can see an icon in my sidebar to vote for me – all votes gratefully received! I thank you :-)

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.

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!