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…
Well, I’m back. I have so much to tell you that it’s all a bit daunting, so I’ll start at the beginning and take a few short cuts.
I went to see Julia Fordham perform at the Pigalle Club in London. She was quite amazing as usual, her extraordinary voice never fails to send shivers of pleasure down my spine, she is a truly talented singer and songwriter. Her sister, my friend Claire, was there and phoned the whole gig in to her parents who weren’t able to be there! Here is one of my favourite (if not THE favourite), Julia Fordham song. If you don’t know her please watch this and marvel.
I flew to the South of France with Claire for the premiere of ‘The Making of Plus One’. I’ve told you about it before, it’s a mockumentary set and filmed during the Cannes Film Festival last year, about a producer trying to get a film made, which is based on Claire’s book (still with me?) I wasn’t sure how it was going to work but it was very good, very funny and fast paced and I enjoyed it immensely.
Cannes was fabulous, everything I thought it would be – glamorous and glitzy, we went to a cocktail party on a large boat, drank champagne in the Carlton, hung out at the Majestic for the after screening party, hob nobbed with celebs. The screening of the film ‘The Making of Plus One’ based very loosely on Claire’s book and in which she and her sister Julia appeared was eventful. I won’t repeat the whole saga as Claire tells it so well over at her blog here so please do visit and read her account of it all – and read how her horoscope saved the day. I tell you this, I wish I had one quarter of Claire’s chutzpah, she is amazing and so deserves to do well.
My next stop was Geneva. I flew out of Nice at 8am and an hour later was in Switzerland. I met my friend Edwina who had flown in from England and we took the train to Crans Montana. It’s a lovely journey as it follows the shores of Lac Leman, through Lausanne and Montreux and then heads of down the Rhône valley to Sierre.
It’s always nice to go to Crans, but as an unrepentant non-skier I love it in the summer! It’s very pretty in the winter but I prefer it green.
We were there a day and then we set off to drive to Mallorca. We drove through Switzerland to France, the journey prolonged by several long hold ups due to a combination of accidents, roadworks and sheer volume of traffic and quite frankly, Montpellier just seems to go on forever, but we eventually arrived in Port de la Selva where we spent the night.
The next morning we were on the road again, heading for Barcelona where we caught a ferry to Palma in Mallorca. The 7 hour trip passed surprisingly quickly and before we knew it we had docked and were on the road to Puerto Pollensa, our final destination. We then collapsed in a heap and spent a very lazy week, eating drinking and lolling around in the sun – although we did walk to Cala San Vicente one day – over a mountain, I’ll have you know! Here are some pics to give you a flavour of the rest of the week.
So now I’m back. I brought sunshine home with me and it has been a slow process getting back into the swing of things. Milo was thrilled to see me but did miss #1 son when he went back to Bath. The most excellent news is that #2 son arrived back from his 4 month trip around South East Asia this morning and is heading to Dorset tomorrow. Woohoo! I am so looking forward to seeing him, it’s ridiculous.
I have just a couple more things to pass on to you bookbinding afficionados. I have just bought three new books to read. I am currently reading a book called ‘People of the Book‘ by Geraldine Brooks, which is about a book restorer and promises to be very good. While I was in Cannes I met one of the stars of ‘The Making of Plus One’, Sara Stockbridge, (who was a model and muse for Vivienne Westwood). She is tall, blond and gorgeous and now, she has written a book called ‘Hammer’ “a novel of the Victorian Underworld” and she told me about a book called ‘ The Journal of Dora Damage‘ by Belinda Starling, which is a book about a bookbinder! I have just bought it and on the back it says ‘a riveting tale of bookbinding and Victorian pornography’. Ooh er missus!
This is Sara and I on the boat in Cannes, with Omid Djalili, a really funny British-Iranian comedian, who was also at the party.
Well, I’m back. Thank you so much for all your kind wishes and comments, I will reply as soon as I have drawn breath. I’ve had a very interesting trip despite a lot of very dodgy weather that seems to be afflicting all Western Europe at the moment. We arrived in Geneva at lunch time and after our 2 hour train journey to Sierre then a taxi ride up the mountain, we finally arrived in Crans Montana in the early evening. It was surprisingly warm and sunny (we had expected to be cold!) but by the next day, it had become grey and misty and that set the tone for much of the rest of the journey south.
It was really interesting to see the same places I photographed a couple of months ago – minus the snow. It’s quite astonishing to see how quickly the grass and trees recover after being covered in snow for months on end. The snow covered hillsides had become meadows filled with wild flowers and the cows were out to pasture, each wearing a huge cow bell which rang constantly. The poor creatures must be deaf with the noise.
Our journey was not going to be a leisurely sight seeing trip unfortunately. We were booked onto a ferry leaving Barcelona the next day so we had a lot of driving to do in a relatively short time. We set off in drizzly rain and and drove to Geneva and then down to Lyon. This part of the journey was through a region called the Jura and the scenery is quite beautiful. I managed to take a few shots as we drove through the mountains and through many tunnels.
After that we headed down the motorway which runs down to the South of France, (called the Autoroute du Soleil – the Sunshine Motorway) heading towards Spain when we reached Orange and bypassing some wonderful places like Montelimar, Avignon, Nimes, Carcassonne and Perpignan. The weather did improve as we drove south but as we were in the car, it seemed a waste! Just after we crossed the Spanish border, we came to Figueras (which has a famous Dali museum) and we stopped for the night in a pretty little fishing village called Port de la Selva.
This was the night that my team, Manchester United played Chelsea in the Champions League Final in Moscow. I managed to watch the last hour or so, in my hotel room on Spanish TV (so no John Motson or Alan Hanson – every cloud has a silver lining) The match was very close and even after playing extra time, the match was still drawn. The penalty shoot out which followed was unbearably exciting and stressful – I could hardly stand to watch it. Luckily, we won and I expect my screams of joy could be heard in Barcelona. Oops! Sorry! Manchester United knocked Barcelona out in the semi finals….. :-) Anyway, don’t let anyone say that we Mancunians weren’t pleased to win the cup!
We were heading for Barcelona to catch a fast ferry over to Palma in Mallorca. When we reached Barcelona, after only getting lost once (and that was because we had a duff road map and the streets had no names or road signs – honest! Maybe it was revenge for the football) we just about had time for a quick lunch before catching the Sea Cat, so I only had time for a quick look around the harbour near the port. (Click on thumbnails for a larger image)
I have stayed in my friends’ apartment in Puerta Pollensa many times and the weather has always been brilliant, so I suppose I was due some bad weather. Friday wasn’t too bad. We did manage to sit in the sun for a while but the three days after that were awful – very unseasonal rain, high winds and storms.
Having said that, I saw THE most amazing thunderstorm which happened whilst there was a spectacular red sunset. Even after many efforts, I didn’t manage to get a photograph of the lightning but shortly after I took this shot there was a HUGE bolt of forked lightning. With the building site in the foreground, this photograph reminds me of Mordor in ‘Lord of the Rings’ :-)
I arrived back in the UK yesterday after our grey, wet week to rain, rain and more rain. Marvellous. Welcome home.
I would hazard a guess that if I had asked to to guess what my next book would look like you would have come up with this one. You may recognize the image from my last post. It’s a view of the mountains on the other side of the Rhone valley, taken from the piste during one of our walks at Crans Montana. I remember taking this shot very well, as we had stopped to catch our breaths after walking up a particularly steep bit of piste. Nick had marched ahead and stopped for the rest of the party to catch up, I was second and had time to take some photographs before the others arrived. The trouble with being last to arrive was that Nick set off again as soon as the stragglers caught up, so I worked out that it paid to be at the front – harder work but longer rests :-)
I have always been interested in paper art. When I was studying calligraphy, I was always keen to find other ways of using paper to enhance the lettering – playing with the paper by cutting and mixing different types of paper. I’ve already posted some of my efforts last year but I’ll show you some examples again to show you what I mean.
I have a fantastic book called ‘The Elements of Pop-Up’ by David A. Carter and James Diaz which is a wonderful book for aspiring paper engineers which not only demonstrates the different effects but explains how to achieve them.
I was reminded of this book by several things I found on the web yesterday. The first was a web site called Centripetal Notion featuring work by Brian Dettmer who produces amazing art by sculpting old books with quite astonishing results.
This reminded me of the work of Peter Callesen which is intricate and elegant but with an underlying humour.
My other favorite paper artist is Jen Stark. Her use of colour and the precision involved in producing her art is spectacular.
Next the work of Annie Vought, who painstakingly cuts around text to create art works which are ethereal and create a wonderful interplay between the text and the shadows. These are based on ‘to do’ lists and a page from an exercise book.
And finally, a wonderful pop-up book called ABC3D by Marion Bataille. It will be available to buy on Amazon in October.
I stand back in awe, at these paper artists’ skill. Amazing.
Well here I am, back in soggy Dorset and it is raining. Thank you all so much for your kind wishes, I did have a wonderful time. Ate and drank far too much but did quite a bit of walking so don’t feel too guilty about it. Having said that, the diet started as soon as I got back….
I traveled to Switzerland with my friend and her son and we were joined a day later by most of the rest of her family and some other friends so there was a chalet full. When we arrived in Geneva there was hardly any snow to be seen. We picked up the car and drove towards Crans Montana which is 2 hours away in the Valais region. It’s a lovely drive and skirts Lake Geneva (otherwise known as Lac Leman) for a good part of the journey, passing through Lausanne and Montreux.
The road follows the River Rhone along the valley to Sierre and then we climb the mountain to Crans Montana which is set on a plateau about 1500m up the mountain. When we arrived at the apartment, the snow was very thin on the ground and we had a couple of days of clear blue skies and sunshine. The day after the rest of the party arrived, we woke up to a blizzard and it snowed relentlessly all day. What a difference a day makes! As you can see from these before and after shots of the view from the chalet balcony.
We ventured into town for a little retail therapy and a very long, delicious lunch but the highlight of the day (as far as everyone else was concerned) was a huge dollop of snow falling off a roof top and landing on my head. Hilarious, I’m sure :-)
Here are a few more shots, taken over the week to give you a flavour of the holiday.
The other notable event happened when my friend and I went to the supermarket to shop before everyone else arrived and we couldn’t find a parking space. Eventually we spotted a man walking towards his car. Excitedly we cheered him and then realised it was Roger Moore, getting into a Volkswagen Golf. Apparently, he now lives in Crans Montana. I think he thought we were grinning and cheering at him because he was Roger Moore but we only wanted his parking space – sorry, Rog, we would have recognised you earlier had you been in a groovier car :-)
We actually watched ‘Live and Let Die’ (my favourite Bond movie) one night when we had eaten too much at lunchtime and didn’t want to go out and eat again. It’s such a long time since I had watched it, I had forgotten what a great theme tune it has and what a fun film it is. But Daniel Craig is still my favourite James Bond. Sorry, Roger….