Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

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…



Where there’s a Will….

I’ve just returned from Stratford on Avon. It was my sister’s birthday. A BIG birthday made all the more disconcerting because she is my younger sister and the less reminders I have the of how old I am, the better! I made her an album for her birthday, which involved the inevitable trawl through old family photographs. The bad hair do’s, the shocking clothes, Memory Lane can be quite a terrifying place to walk down. I also dug out some old home movie footage which was originally Super 8 film which I had transferred onto DVD. Quite hilarious. Memories of so many family outings –  I can only think that every time my dad said ‘Do something for the camera’, we flung ourselves off whatever rock or wall we were standing on onto a beach or we did a cartwheel. In Scotland, in Wales, in Cornwall, in our garden – always the same. Here is a photograph of me and two of my three sisters (presumably just before we threw ourselves off the sea wall at Blackpool). I’m the tallest and birthday girl is the cutie in the middle.

This is the album I made for her.

We had a lovely family party at a hotel just outside Stratford on Avon. Yesterday, we had a very quick trip into Stratford to see the sights. It always astonishes me that William Shakespeare’s birthplace is still standing there on a busy shopping street.

We had a very quick walk along the River Avon by the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It is undergoing a huge renovation project so it is currently covered in scaffolding and camouflage. It normally looks like this

but at the moment looks like this

Here are a few more shots of the visit.

This last guy was one of those performance artists who stood as still as a statue until someone approached him to take his photograph and then he leaped off his box and frightened the life out of them. I’m not sure Will would have approved.

To round off, (tenuous link alert) this is a calligram I did a few years ago. I repeated the phrase ‘As You Like It’ to make this image of the great man himself. Click on it to enlarge.

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!

Procrastinating champion of the world

I’ve got the ‘January, weather is rubbish, Christmas is over, summer is ages away, everyone’s in a foul mood, too much to do, I’m on a diet, can’t stop procrastinating’ blues. You know the feeling. I’ve even resorted to re-using this fab cartoon from last year. In fact, I have just done a quick search and I have used it twice before but hopefully, you won’t remember and I will get away with it. It says it all really. I have loads to do (two websites to work on) but unfortunately, I have started to read a really good, unputdownable book and got into knitting in a big way, so the temptation to idle my days away reading and knitting is hard to resist. I am on a diet too,  so all my will power is being used up on stopping the bad eating habits I got into over the Christmas period and there is none left at all for work discipline. I suppose the answer would be to have a ‘get the book finished’ day and limit the knitting to evenings only. That might work…

The book, by the way is ‘Under the Dome’ by Stephen King. I heard a review of it on Radio 4 and it sounded quite good and even though I normally avoid the schlocky horror (not Rocky Horror) genre, I thought ‘Well, this is the man who wrote the short story that ‘The Shawshank Redemption’ is based on, maybe it will be OK’ and now I am gripped. It’s the sort of book that you want to know the end but don’t want the book to finish, if you know what I mean. I’m reading it on my Kindle so I can’t easily jump ahead and read the ending which is an advantage of the Kindle I guess. It is rather unfortunate that the book came out after the ‘Simpsons Movie’ (when Springfield gets enclosed in a giant dome) but you soon stop expecting Homer to pop up and say ‘Doh!’ when things go wrong. Anyway, in the interest of fairness and to celebrate the Simpsons 20th anniversary, here is the trailer for the film which includes the classic  Homer and ‘Spider Pig’.

The other thing that I have done which is bizarre given all I have just said about being busy (well, having lots to do) is start a new blog. I know, I know, it makes no sense at all but it’s Teresa’s fault she made me – honest! She has taken up the challenge to post a photograph a day for 365 days. Her photo blog is here, mine is at 365pix Project. It’s actually quite easy as I’m only going to post one photograph and maybe a quick comment every day. I didn’t start until the 10th so I may have to go over until the 9th in 2011 but we will see how it goes. Why don’t you join in?

Now then, I’m going to take Milo for a walk, make a low-cal but nutritious and tasty lunch (I wish), then I am going to WORK on those websites – although I might take a photograph on the walk and post it to my new blog first and the laundry needs dealing with and I really ought to tidy my desk and maybe make a cup of tea…

Old things, new things – snow joke, you know…

I had a quiet intro to the New Year which was nice as the week between Christmas and New Year was quite hectic. Since then, I have been busy doing things I don’t normally do. First I baked a cake for a friend’s birthday. It was his 60th so we decided to have a 60s themed dinner – prawn cocktails to start, coq au vin and then I volunteered to make a black forest gateau for dessert. I haven’t done any baking for YEARS but I was actually quite proud of the finished cake.

I have also been rather obsessed with another hobby I haven’t done for an even longer time – knitting. When I was first married and lived in Cardiff  (around 1978), my best friend, Jo, and I became passionate about knitting and after we had knitted ourselves waistcoats and sweaters, we then began knitting our (then) husbands, cardigans and sweaters too. Even more astonishingly though, THEY WORE THEM! And on a trip to Paris! It must have been love. We have all been digging out old photographs from those days recently and we found some pictures of the hideous creations we had knitted, thinking we all looked so cool and trendy. Bless. Anyway, I wanted some wrist warmers, and decided to have a go at knitting my own. I found this wool (Sirdar Crofter) which is patterned so that when you knit it up, it makes a sort of Fair Isle pattern which looks great.I finished the wrist warmers and decided to have a go at some socks and then some fingerless gloves. Here they are…

You may be wondering why the fixation with warm hands and feet? Well, you have read about or are experiencing the arctic conditions here in the UK. It is freezing cold. Most of the country is covered in a  deep blanket of snow and has been for weeks. Here in Bridport, we have had the freezing temperatures (-9℃) but NO SNOW! We were forecast to have a huge dump of snow a couple of nights ago. I woke up looked out the window and it was green as usual. There was a flurry of snow for about an hour later that morning but it was like teflon – it didn’t stick and within a short space of time, it had mostly disappeared. I know snow causes massive disruption and bother for a lot of people but it does look so magical and is such fun (for about an hour until the cold sets in) but we seem to be having all the nasty bits – the extreme cold and icy roads and none of the pretty fun bits. Here is a photo NASA took of the UK recently – strangely, you can’t see my green oasis.

A slightly ironic result of all this is that I decided I needed some new boots to wear in the snow (!) I ordered them online but they have not arrived as the shipment has been delayed by…you’ve guessed it, the snow.

I did venture out to see ‘Avatar -3D’ the other night. It was quite astonishing and I absolutely loved it. It’s a visual treat and the world of Pandora as imagined by the CGI artists is extraordinarily beautiful in every tiny detail. The 3D effects are really good and actually seem to be coming out of the screen at times. Go and see it on the biggest screen you can – and make sure you see the 3D version and not the 2D one! Here’s the trailer (which does not do it justice).

I’ll spare you the photo of me doing my best Elvis Costelloe impersonation in my 3D specs….