Well, that’s all my travelling done for this year. Unless some miracle happens, I am doomed to the rain and grey skies here in the UK until next year. It was 37°C every day I was in Mallorca, clear blue skies – I loved it. I am definitely a hothouse flower. I arrived back in the UK yesterday and today it is raining. Sorry to bang on about the weather again but it does get me down.
Anyways, before I went to Mallorca, I was very busy making two albums and boxes for the friend I was going to stay with and for her daughter, who gave birth to a beautiful baby boy back in May. It was my friend’s birthday (a significant one) and as I couldn’t think of a present to buy her, I made her the album of photos of her first grandson. I asked her daughter to send me lots of photos of the baby and she kindly sent me nearly 500, so it was a very enjoyable task to go through them and choose the best to go into the two albums. (I printed them on to double sided heavy weight paper using my Canon Pixma Pro 9500 printer using archival pigment inks, for the technically minded among you)
Here are photos of one of the albums – one was pale blue and the other was pale green. The photo on the front was taken in the baby’s bedroom.
My friends have THE most beautiful house. I am especially attached to it because I helped to choose it several years ago after a whistlestop visit to Mallorca when we viewed 18 houses, with 4 different agents, in 2 days. The house they bought was the last one we viewed – on the way back to the airport. They grow all their own fruit and vegetables – there are olive, almond, carob, apple and pear trees, grapes, tomatoes, plums, damsons, sweet potatoes, figs…the list goes on. Idyllic times.
It was a fabulously lazy holiday (even by my standards) – wonderful friends, great food, lots of swimming (well, floating about on an inflatable reclining chair), lots of reading, chatting and bobbing about on boats. I even managed to keep up with the cricket while I lay by the pool, thanks to my faithful iPhone. In fact on Saturday, I was following The Ashes, the Man U (my team) v Wigan footie match (5-0! Keep it up boys!) and the Formula 1 qualifying (go Lewis!) from the comfort of my sun lounger. A very sweet day on the sporting front.
I even managed not to drop my phone in the pool…
Just before I left for Mallorca, I took part in an event which happens every year in my town, Bridport. There is a carnival which takes place on Saturday and then on Sunday evening, there is a torchlight procession from the town hall in Bucky Doo Square to the coast at West Bay, where there is a huge bonfire and a firework display. It was a fine dry night so 1500 people took part, the walk takes about an hour and it was very atmospheric.
Milo was in kennels while I was away. I picked him up yesterday. He was in a disgusting state. He smelled terrible, his feet and fur were matted with smelly mud and worse (horse poo?) his coat was full of matted lumps, his eyes were streaming and irritated. I was told the dogs are allowed to run around and play together in a large paddock which is covered in bark chippings. Apparently it had rained while I was away. He has only stayed there overnight before so I was not prepared for the consequences of leaving him there for a week. When I complained about the condition he was in, (I said the standard of care was outrageous) I was told I was outrageous for not wanting my dog to have fun. I dread to think how long they would have left him in this state if I have had gone away for a longer holiday. The sad thing is that I had recommended this kennels to several friends as it appears to have good facilities. I shall be spreading the word and am now on the hunt for another place to take him when I go away.
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.
I am back from Mallorca, rested and with Vitamin D stores replenished. I seriously think I was suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder). I’m normally a fairly cheerful soul – everything is fine (until it isn’t!) but I had started to feel that things most definitely were not fine any more – hence my visit to Mallorca.
I’ve not really had chance to catch up since I got back so I apologise if I have missed anything vital! I think I may have missed a few tags – if I have – sorry, I’ll try and get to them when I can. I must confess that part of the problem has been my obsession with the Olympics – I have been glued to the TV watching all sorts of weird and wonderful sports and rooting for any one who took my fancy if there were no Team GB athletes involved. I am quite bereft now it is all over. It was a wonderful Games, the spectacular facilities, a wonderful backdrop to some truly stunning sporting performances. Now it’s up to London to produce a good Games in 2012. Fingers crossed.
This weekend, the weather has brightened up back home as well and I am feeling much better. Luckily, I am also off to sunny Los Angeles for two weeks on Friday so another blast of hot sunshine should complete the recovery. I will be taking my laptop with me this time so I hope to send you regular bulletins from California. In preparation, I have been indulging in a little retail therapy which has probably contributed to my improved state of mind…
Clothes shopping makes me happy so to continue this cheery vibe, watch this video it combines two of my favourite things – paper and babies!
PS My garden table is due to arrive today…it is almost 2pm, I am not holding my breath…
PPS – Just found out about this film, ‘Burn after Reading’. I HAVE to see this, it is the new Coen brothers film (love the Coen brothers’ films) and it stars George Clooney (and you all know how I feel about HIM), Brad Pitt (take him or leave him – am I the only person who thinks he is the WORST comedy actor? Think of his guest appearance in ‘Friends’ – useless) and John Malkovich (weirdly gorgeous) and two great female leads, Frances McDormand and Tilda Swinton. Here is a trailer. Maybe it will be on in Los Angeles….
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.