Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Festive guzzlings…

Christmas has been a very ‘moveable feast’. It started with a whistlestop visit ‘oop North’-ish to visit my family which was fun. They were all terribly organised and handed over Christmas cards. I hadn’t even written mine as I had lost my address book, I might have missed some folk off my list :-(   All the internet savvy amongst my friends, who send emails, are in my address book on the computer but the others were doomed to not receive one. I wonder if they noticed? I posted them at the last minute anyway so they probably didn’t arrive in time.

Another lovely cartoon from Dave Walker at cartoonchurch.com.

We had a lovely Christmas morning (once I had prised my sons out of bed) and I was well pleased with the gifts I received, my #2 son bought me a beautiful gold pendant which is a leaf skeleton cast in gold – quite beautiful. My other son bought me a copy of Wii Fit Plus amongst other things. I suspect he is trying to tell me something. Copies of Michael MacIntyres DVD were exchanged – I reckon every household in the UK must have at least 2 copies of his DVD right now… but it is SO funny. Here’s a taster.

I spent the rest of Christmas day with some dear friends in Somerset, who always take pity on my non-vegan son and I and invite us over for Christmas dinner. My vegan son usually heads off to Bristol (clutching the nut roast I have made for him) to spend the afternoon with his vegan buddies. We turkey guzzlers had a fab time and ate far too much as usual but hey! it’s Christmas! The next morning, I went to Cardiff to visit friends there for a couple of days. We had a wonderful time – ate far too much again, and on my return to Dorset, a couple of friends and my son’s girlfriend arrived and we have been eating and drinking and eating, ever since. Roll on the New Year and the annual diet/get fit regime.

We went to see the new Sherlock Holmes film yesterday (having tried unsuccessfully to get in to see ‘Avatar 3D’) and I loved it. The recreation of Victorian London is amazing and the lovely Robert Downey Jr is a gorgeous, hunky Sherlock Holmes, I highly recommend it.

Anyway, talking of hunky men, I have another very pleasant duty to perform. My #2 son, Ben and his friend Tom, are starting their own business. It’s called Mylo Design and they are setting up a design agency which will connect aspiring young designers who would otherwise find it hard to obtain work, with businesses who need branding and visual communications projects completed to a high standard – without paying high established design agency fees. They are approaching design students and newly qualified designers to join them

‘Becoming a Mylo designer will give you the best opportunity to immerse yourself in the creative industry, improving your portfolio and skills whilst getting paid for the work you put in. On top of this, the Mylo team will do its best to guide their designers towards getting the best out of themselves, providing all the relevant resources and support needed to become a notable force within design.’

There will also be an associated social network site where the young designers can ask advice, chat to each other and take part in forums discussing design issues. They also plan to have online tutorials and resources available.

It’s a brilliant idea and I’m sure that it will be a success. So if you know any young web or graphic designers who might be interested, let them know about Mylo Design. They also have a Facebook fan page for those of you who do FB, and already have 342 fans.

So tomorrow is the last day of 2009. The end if the ‘Noughties’ and a new decade begins. Even though it doesn’t seem five minutes since the party we held to celebrate the new millennium  and such a lot has happened in the interim – when it was good it was very, very good and when it was bad, it was horrid. So I hope 2010 is a good year for you all, I’m hoping for very good things (although I just pulled a wishbone with Ben and he got the good half) but still, I remain an optimist :-)

Have a great time tomorrow and Happy New Year!

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.

….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 – possibly the best thing I have ever seen – utterly 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) – definitely 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….

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.

anish1anish2

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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