Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Croeso y Cymru

I’ve been in Cardiff for a couple of days. The trip was arranged so I could finally hand over the wedding album I have been working on, to my god-daughter and her husband. They seemed to like it and now they have seen it, I can finally reveal some photographs of it…click all images to enlarge.

This A3 sized album and box are covered with a pearly silver satin book cloth which I bought from Paper Source in the US. The spine is covered in white leather, bought from Pittards. The inner cover of the album and the box lining was printed from a unique design the couple used for their invitations and wedding stationery and continued the whole theme through from the wedding. I printed the 75 double sided pages using my Canon Pixma Pro 9500 printer which uses archival quality pigment inks for longevity and lightfastness. I am really pleased with how this album turned out and I hope it leads to orders for more albums – god-daughter and husband are going to 6 weddings this year! I already have a new client lined up who is marrying in July but I’d like more, these albums are such fun to work on. Now the decks are clear, I am finally going to start work on my own website – it’s been a long time coming!

This morning we all went for a walk up Wenallt Hill. It was a really good walk through woods and open fields. The bluebells were just starting to come out, it will be even more wonderful in a few days. Here are some shots of the walk.

I’m now back home in Dorset, Milo is still in kennels so the house seems very quiet after being with a houseful of people in Cardiff. It’s amazing how such a small dog can create such a large space when he isn’t here. He may be small but he has a big personality! Still, I will pick him up from kennels in the morning, he will sulk all day (payback for taking him to kennels) then we will get back to normal. At the moment, I’m just relishing the peace and quiet, busy day tomorrow…hwyl fawr!

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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 :-)

Mud and stuff

These are the last few photographs from my sister’s visit to Dorset, the weather ranges from wet and windy through misty and cold and on the last day – the sun came out. I thought I would try out the new WordPress slideshow option – quite nice.

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My #2 son arrived home on Friday for the weekend. I wanted to show him the fossils at Monmouth Beach so on Easter Sunday, we set out to visit Lyme Regis which was a VERY BAD IDEA. I drove us there at around 11.30am. We drove around and around but couldn’t find anywhere to park, Lyme Regis was full to bursting. We hadn’t reckoned on it being a) the first sunny day for a while and b) a holiday and c) lunchtime so we eventually gave up and headed for Charmouth instead. Same deal, only this time we ended up stuck in a traffic jam along a narrow lane leading down to the car park and the whole queue ended up having to reverse back down the lane to get out as there was no room to turn around at the bottom. Nightmare. So we came home :-(

We tried again the next day at 3.30 as it was Easter Monday and we figured most people would be setting off for home. It was still busy but much better and we had a great time walking along the beach with Milo. We found an area of rock on the beach known as the Ammonite Graveyard. (Click all images to enlarge)

It is quite astonishing and extends for a huge area of the beach.

This my son walking across it…

The cliffs along this stretch of beach are really unstable after the heavy rain we have had over the last few weeks and we could see water streaming off the clay and also watched large chunks of cliff falling onto the beach – which was a little disconcerting to say the least. I read in the local paper that 3 separate lots of children have had to rescued from the mud recently.

In the second image, if you click on it to enlarge it you can see an large ammonite lying amongst the rocks…

Of course all the muddy clay from the cliffs and the wet sandy rock pools were irresistible to Milo who had a whale of a time…

His day didn’t end quite so happily though, as soon as we arrived home he was dumped unceremoniously into the bath…

Have you ever seen a sorrier sight?

My son went back to London on Tuesday morning and Milo has been sulking ever since. He normally spends his days lying at my feet while I work but I am obviously a very poor substitute for his best friend, my son, and right now, he is lying downstairs on the sofa in the kitchen sighing and looks at me very dolefully when I walk in. Even a walk hasn’t cheered him up. Poor pooch.

A hunting we will go….

My sister and her husband are visiting Dorset. Yesterday, we decided to go to Lyme Regis. The weather wasn’t brilliant but at least the day started out dry. Compare this photograph of Lyme yesterday, with the second one of the same harbour in the summer….

The whole coastline in Dorset is a World Heritage site known as the Jurassic Coast. It is a rich hunting ground for fossil hunters and we were no exception we spent quite some time wandering along Monmouth Beach, to the west of the harbour and this is just some of what we found…it is ammonite central. Some of these are several feet across. (click images to enlarge)

The fossils are washed out of the cliffs which border the beach and which are composed of Blue Lias which are layers of limestone interspersed with clay. The cliffs are highly unstable and very prone to mudslides – which of course, the fossil hunters love as a mudslide generally deposits new fossils on the beach. The local authorities try in vain to persuade people to stay away from the cliff and in places it is forbidden to chip away at the cliff face. This group of fossil hunters were on an organized hunt so they were well prepared with hard hats (although I’m not sure they would protect you from having a cliff fall on your head…)

As we have had a LOT of rain recently the cliff face was particularly crumbly….and SO tempting.

We didn’t manage to find a pocket sized ammonite or any other fossil to take home but I have decided I am going to go on an organised hunt as I really want to know what I’m looking at. I found a couple of things that looked like they were something but I just wasn’t sure what!

We then moved on to Charmouth which is just along the coast from Lyme Regis and were going to walk to Black Venn – a famous place for fossils (and scene of a spectacular mud slide in 2008)  I found this when I was searching for Black Venn on the internet…

EEEK.

Anyhow, the tide was coming in and the rain was coming down so after a quick explore, we headed back home for a cup of tea. I’m really looking forward to showing my neck of the woods off to my sister  – if the dreadful weather would just improve. Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove next.

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.