Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Category Archives: web design

All quiet on the Western front….

For a change it’s all been quite quiet chez moi. Lots of web design and coding going on – I hadn’t realised that eCommerce was such a complicated thing, so that has been keeping me glued to my Mac day after day. Just as well as the weather has been dreadful – torrential rain and howling gales. It’s pouring again as I write this.

I did manage to escape to visit friends in Cardiff for the weekend last week. Needless to say it poured down and the trip back over the Severn Bridge was a nightmare but I did have a lovely time. We visited Cardiff Bay for a brisk walk (very brisk – it was freeeeeezing). I’d been there before – there are lots of shops and restaurants but I had never noticed that there is a Norwegian Church there. It’s a very pretty little building and outside there is a piece of Gaudi-esque sculpture which is a memorial to Captain Scott by Jonathan Williams. I thought this was a slightly odd place to site it, seeing as how Captain Scott was beaten to the South Pole by Roald Amundsen – a Norwegian explorer. The church has been now been deconsecrated and now has a tearoom and hosts craft fairs, weddings – and meetings of the Captain Scott Society (so they must have forgiven them!) It’s a small outpost of Norway, that is a taster for a planned trip to Oslo to attend RennyBA’s blog gathering in August next year, which should be fun and it will be great to actually meet some of the blogging friends I have made over the years.

I promised a two friends of mine that I would mention their new website, Chinti and Parker. It’s a gorgeous website selling ‘luxury basics which are produced ethically’. They sell women’s and baby clothes and I have to say it almost makes me wish I was a grandmother so I could treat my grandchild to an adorable hand knitted cashmere sweater. (I said almost, I’m not ready to be a granny just yet!)

It hasn’t escaped my ‘Bah humbug’ notice that Christmas is looming again. It’s December. Again. So soon. I am so disorganised and unenthusiastic about it. I have to confess at this point that the remains of last year’s tree are still at the bottom of my garden. I was going to burn it before the new one arrived in a week or so but it has been so wet I haven’t been able to. What a disaster. My garden fence was shredded by the wind too so I have ordered my new fence and a Christmas tree from Crocus. Let’s just hope the weather improves soon so I can do all the outdoor jobs which are piling up – install new fence, jet wash paving and decking (which is like a skating rink it is so mossy), repair leaking gutter, paint front door – you get the picture. If I can get a boy or two home maybe I can delegate….

Then there is Christmas shopping. The boys don’t seem to realise that when I say “if you don’t tell me what you want you won’t get anything’, that I mean it. It gets more difficult the older they get. I’m a great believer in Amazon Wishlists and add to mine in time for Christmas and birthdays. Trouble is no-one seems to ever read it so it just gets longer and longer until I give in and buy myself something off it. And don’t get me started on Christmas cards…

Thanks to Dave Walker for this. I love his cartoons, this is a link to his Christmas Advent calendar cartoons, every one a gem.

Oops.

Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun? I’ve just realised it is almost a month since my last post. Oops. I have no excuse other than I have been doing other stuff so that is a good thing in my book. When I used to post every day, I was in a very gloomy, bored and down in the dumps place – not from talking to you lovely people, I hasten to add, but from personal circumstances.  Being too much in cyber space at the expense of a ‘real’ life is not a good thing and so as my real life gets busier,  my blog gets neglected, I’m afraid. I am particularly fortunate in that I have great friends who drag me out to have fun when I start getting too wrapped up in bookbinding and web designing and stop me turning into a hermit. Thank you, people. :-)

Anyway, here are the highlights of what I have been up to at the expense of writing my blog – a black tie dinner and dance in aid of the NSPCC at a beautiful house called West Coker Manor (lots of dancing, my knees killed me next day), several dinners and BBQs with good friends (I’ve been to more BBQs this autumn than all summer), a wonderful day at the Goodwood Revival , a trip up to London to see my #2 son, a visit to the cinema to see ‘District 9’ (very good film), games of tennis (knees held up). In between all this activity, I have been working on a wedding album for a friend’s daughter (76 pages of beautiful photographs), designing and writing my new website (yes I’m finally going to start selling my books!), maintaining and updating various websites for clients and research for a new web design project I am about to start. Phew.

#2 son and I went to the Royal Academy to see the Anish Kapoor exhibition only to find it hadn’t started yet which was very disappointing but we did see this amazing construction which was outside. If you look closely you can see us reflected in the silver shapes. At least I have a very good excuse to head up to London again to see the exhibition which has now opened.

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The Goodwood Revival is worth mentioning in more detail. What a fun day! For those of you who haven’t heard of it, this is what it is:

The Goodwood Revival is the world’s most popular historic motor race meeting and the only event of its kind to be staged in the romantic time capsule of the Fifties and Sixties.  As well as recreating the golden era of motor sport, the Revival offers exceptional wheel-to-wheel racing around a classic circuit, untouched by the modern world.

It was fantastic, most of the people attending the three day event, dress in clothes of the period of Goodwood’s heyday – the 40s, 50s and early 60s. The motor racing is SO exciting, there was an air display and as it was Stirling Moss’s 80th birthday, there was a parade of 80 of the cars he has driven during his long motor racing career. I’m not a motor racing afficionado but who could not love these beautiful old cars and to see them racing was such a thrill.

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I ‘ummed and aahed’ about what to wear and eventually wore a dress I had in my wardrobe that looked a bit ‘Mary Quant’ – very unadventurous perhaps and after seeing the effort other people put into their costumes, I shall do better if I ever go again! I’ve also been stressing out about what to wear to my god daughter’s wedding on Friday. I had it all sorted – smart dress, cashmere cardigan, kitten heeled shoes, (same outfit I wore for the wedding at Lulworth Castle) until I actually read the invitation and it said

‘Dress Code – Smart suits with ties and fabulous frocks, the more glamorous the better.’

Eek! I am now thinking my original plan is too…well, unglamorous. What to do? Time is running out so I have just bought some killer heels (and believe me, with my knees they will live up to their name) to jazz up my frock and that will have to do. At least I do like my dress, now, about the bag….

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Wedding bells…

I had a lovely weekend. I was invited to accompany a friend to his niece’s wedding and as I do like a good wedding, I dusted off my posh frock and my dancing shoes and accepted. I had promised to make the bride and groom a guest book for the the wedding guests to sign at the reception. This is what I came up with. The book spine is white leather and the cover image is printed onto Belgian linen ink jet bookcloth.

The wedding guest book

The wedding guest book

  • The book and its box
  • The book and its boxInside the book
  • The box

    The box

    The wedding was in a very beautiful and tiny church in Weymouth called St Anne’s. The service was really sweet as the vicar kept forgetting the groom’s name – not ideal, but luckily, he got it right at the crucial bits of the service. One of the readings was a Pam Ayres poem which brought the house down.

    Yes, I’ll Marry You

    Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,
    And here’s the reason why;
    So I can push you out of bed
    When the baby starts to cry,
    And if we hear a knocking
    And it’s creepy and it’s late,
    I hand you the torch you see,
    And you investigate.

    Yes, I’ll marry you, my dear,
    You may not apprehend it,
    But when the tumble-drier goes
    It’s you that has to mend it,
    You have to face the neighbour
    Should our labrador attack him,
    And if a drunkard fondles me
    It’s you that has to whack him.

    Yes, I’ll marry you,
    You’re virile and you’re lean,
    My house is like a pigsty
    You can help to keep it clean.
    That sexy little dinner
    Which you served by candlelight,
    As I do chipolatas,
    You can cook it every night!

    It’s you who has to work the drill
    and put up curtain track,
    And when I’ve got PMT it’s you who gets the flak,
    I do see great advantages,
    But none of them for you,
    And so before you see the light,
    I do, I do, I do!

    The vicar also included my ‘Captain Corelli’s Mandolin’ quotation (which I am reading at my god daughter’s wedding in October) in his sermon. It sounded good, so I am busy rehearsing for when I have to stand up in public and read it – gulp. It will be a bit ‘curly’ as my ex will be there too – a bit strange for me to be extolling the virtues of married love but – hey ho, has to be done.

    Lulworth Castle

    The wedding reception was held at Lulworth Castle, which is actually a mock castle. It was built as a hunting lodge in 1610 by Thomas Howard but it was destroyed in a fire in 1929 and left as a roofless ruin. In the 70’s a restoration was begun which was completed in 1998. It is fascinating, the ground floor has been renovated but the upper floors have not been replaced. It was re-roofed and the walls cleaned so as you stand inside you can see the full height of the building above you and see fireplaces, doors and windows which were in rooms far above you. One of the towers has a spiral staircase which takes you up onto the roof to see the spectacular views of the surrounding parkland to the sea as far as Poole harbour.

    During the afternoon, we went outside to watch a display of jousting which was great fun. Here are some photographs of the afternoon.

    Such a fun day – and the only sunny day of the whole weekend, so doubly blessed. I hope the weather is as kind at the wedding in October.

    I’ve spent the time since then re-writing my friend Claire’s web site and giving it a bit of a revamp. Last week, she discovered that her old website had been blocked by Google. It turned out that it had been hacked and big chunks of it had been overwritten with malicious code. When I had removed the code, it was easier to write her a new website than try and resurrect the old one. You can see the results and read what Claire has been up to here.

    claireheading

    I should have been busy this week making an album for my #2 son. He wanted me to make him one using all the photographs that he and his three friends took during their four months of travelling in South East Asia earlier this year. They are having great difficulty deciding on which photographs to include – they have managed to edit it down to 2000 so far, so I’m not holding my breath :-)

    travels

    Finally, news of Milo. After his ordeal at the kennels, I had to take him to the dog groomers. The only way to sort out the matted knots in his coat was to give him a severe haircut – he has been shorn naked! Poor thing looks like a demented poodle. Here are before and after pics. At least his hair will grow I suppose…

    Milo and his favourite toy

    P1010018

    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.

    stats2

    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 ;-)

    Vodpod videos no longer available.

    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.

    mac-pc

    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 blog birthday to me.

    greatlistener

    Those of you who know me will know that for a long time, my role in life has been that of a mother, housewife, lady-who-lunches, type person. I’m not complaining. I loved being at home with my children and being a full time mother, I considered myself very privileged to be able to enjoy this lifestyle. It was my career. Wife and mother. I loved looking after my husband and I loved being around for my children. I enjoyed being able to attend all their school events and to be able to ferry them to their many after school activities and let’s face it, I admit I enjoyed my days, when I could pootle around, play tennis, meet up with friends and pursue my many hobbies. The only fly in the ointment was the feeling of inadequacy that would flood over me when I used to meet new people and observe their eyes glaze over with boredom when they asked what I did for a living. “Housewife’ just didn’t cut it somehow. Then everything changed, seemingly all at once. Children grew up, husband went AWOL and I sudddenly found myself adrift.

    It took me a long time to come to terms with my new circumstances. I suffered from ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’ big style. I had a couple of new relationships, each lasted a couple of years, each one ended abruptly, each break up worse than the last and I will admit, this last year I have struggled after the very sudden demise of what I thought was a wonderful relationship with THE ONE. No matter.

    I decided I needed a career, but what to do after 20 years of non-career? I tried training to be a maths teacher but realised I enjoyed training to be a teacher more than I enjoyed the job itself. I started to understand that I enjoy the process of learning new things. It was one of the things I loved about my last partner. He has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and a vast curiosity about the world. It was something we had in common and we would often contact each other during the day to share something amazing we had read, heard or seen. Encouraged and aided by him, I started to teach myself to design web sites and I also started to make books. The rest is history.

    My life has gone crazy. The book I designed for the record company was received with delight and they have ordered 20 (!) more to be used as promotional copies. The first is going to Bob Dylan, the second to Morgan Freeman and another to Bruce Springsteen. I forget the other names – I was in a daze at the meeting! There is a possibility that when the actual book goes to print, they might offer a limited edition, hand bound version by yours truly. In addition, I have been asked to design several web sites, the latest is a new one for an artist friend and it’s huge – contains a gallery of 70 or so paintings. Each one I do, seems to generate interest and I am now charging serious money (as opposed to ‘mate’s rates’). I have been so busy, I haven’t had time to mope or despair at the lack of suitable chaps on internet dating sites or eat (so I am losing weight – an unforeseen but pleasing bonus). I realised today – I have a life. A full, interesting, satisfying life which keeps me busy and fills my days. I have learned a lot and have much more to discover. And when people ask me what I do, I now have something to tell them. (However, shame on you if you have ever thought being a housewife was a boring job!)

    You may wonder why this uncharacteristic introspection? Well, it’s by way of explanation about my lack of blogging and my disappearance from your blogs. I heard recently my husband has got engaged to his new girl friend which initiated a huge bout of retrospection, a little sadness but not as much as I would have thought, surprisingly. It is also 2 years since I first started this blog and I was thinking about how my life has changed in that time and doing that rather under rated thing – counting my blessings. I have my wonderful sons, great friends, a new fledgling career (in fact, two!) a nice house, my blogging friends and of course, I mustn’t forget Milo. (How can I? He’s is lying on my foot….)

    For the first time in ages, I feel quite positive about the future. The only thing missing is a partner to share it all with but I have even stopped worrying about that. It will happen one day, I hope and in the meantime, I have more than enough things to fill my time. Long may it continue. Back to the jokes next time I promise!