Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Tag Archives: Portofino

Diane needs…

I found this meme at Kim’s @ Laketrees. She borrowed it from Sandee’s @ Comedy Plus who was tagged by Mimi of Mimi Writes for the The Needs Meme. Mimi was tagged by Shannon’s Moments of Introspection who was tagged by Dawn’s Daily Life ……
This one is pretty simple and looks pretty silly.
The rules: All you have to do is Google your first name with the word needs behind it and post the results.

It sounded fun so I decided to play along too. I googled ‘Diane’ follwed by ‘needs’ and these are 12 of the 14,700,000 results I got.

  1. Diane needs a pigfoot and a bottle of beer…
  2. Diane needs someone claiming to be a long lost relative….
  3. Diane needs to reconcile both sides of herself…
  4. Diane needs to wake up…
  5. Diane needs a loan from her father…
  6. Diane needs help!
  7. (what) Diane needs is a good affair…
  8. (what) Diane needs is only moist, well drained organic soil…
  9. Diane needs to be more sexy and more out there…
  10. Diane needs bossing…
  11. Diane needs to eat more…
  12. Diane needs is a f*%*&*g good shower.

Well, what can I say? Some are spookily truer than others – but I’m not telling you which ones!

I’m going to tag the following blogging friends to have a go – but only if you’d like to.

TeresaAmyJennySueColinKyleePaulwritinggbScratchbags70steenAstridDrowsey MonkeyFracasLady BananaPeteej and anyone else who thinks this might be a fun thing to do….help yourself.

Now guess what?

I made a book! The weather has been very iffy again so I took the opportunity to use some of the lovely paper I have hanging around. I think I am back in the groove…

Now I know I promised not to bang on about Italy again but that was before I decided to sort out a cupboard (looking for #1 son’s passport) and came across some old photographs from 1999.  In fact, the date stamped on these photographs is 09.09.99. and as we are approaching 08.08.08 and I have just paid the man who cuts my lawn £108 on 01.08.08  (I am coming over all numerological. Is there such a word?) Anyway, it also happens the photographs were of a magical trip to – you’ve guessed it – Italy! Portofino, Carrara and Siena, to be precise. So for what I promise will be the last time I mention Italy for AGES, here are some highlights of the trip.

First Portofino, a picture postcard perfect village in Liguria, on the Northern coast of Italy. My ex and I drove there for a wedding anniversary – 23rd I think…

The harbour at Portofino


We left Portofino and drove to Carrara to meet up with a friend, Stephen Cox, who is a sculptor. He wanted to show us the marble quarry where he buys the marble for some of his work. It was one of the most memorable days of my life – for all sorts of reasons.

All images here on in can be enlarged by clicking on them

You can see Carrara as you drive along the motorway that follows the coast in Northern Italy. The mountains behind the town look as if they are snow covered but in fact, it is the white marble that the area is famous for, gradually being revealed by the quarrying which has been going on since Roman times. In fact, the Pantheon and Trajan’s column, in Rome are made of it. This is my favourite photograph of the Pantheon.

The interior of the Pantheon

When we reached Carrara, we drove to the place where Stephen buys his marble from. It’s a huge yard with an enormous machine like a band saw which saws the huge marble chunks into appropriate sizes.

The owner of the place then drove us in a Land Rover into the mountains to see where the marble originated. We drove up to the edge of town and then suddenly started to drive up a rough, gravelly track, barely wider than the Land Rover. This is the road we were driving up.

The road up the mountain

Whenever, we got to the end of a section, we had to do a three point turn to get round the corner. The back of the car was hanging over a precipice as we got higher and higher. If you enlarge this photograph, you can see cars parked at the bottom – see how tiny they are! After a terrifying journey, we arrived at the quarry and we were astonished to see the scale of the operation up there. HUGE earthmovers and dumper trucks (which had obviously done the same journey at some point – in fact the trucks do it several times a day – loaded with giant blocks of marble) were cutting away at the mountain face, carving enormous cubes of the stone.

Here are some shots of the process.

After we left Carrara, we drove to Siena, where Stephen had an exhibition in the square in front of the Duomo (cathedral) called ‘Interior Spaces’. He had placed 4 huge hollow marble boxes which resembled sarcophagi in the piazza. It was wonderful to see people interacting with them – peering through openings, looking at the light shining through them or even just using them as somewhere to sit and enjoy the sunshine.

We spent a few days in Siena which, as I have already mentioned in my previous post, is a beautiful city. It is famous for a horse race held there twice a year called the ‘Palio‘. It is hotly contested by 10 of the 17 ‘contradas‘ or districts of Siena. Each contrada is named after an animal or a symbol and has it’s own flag, colours, uniform and traditions. The race dates dates back to medieval times and during the year each contrada parades in the streets playing music and waving their flags to drum up support. I saw the ‘Aquila’ (Eagle) contrada parading through the streets.

Contrada flags

Here is a video I found on YouTube of a Palio race. It is my ambition to see one but perhaps not in the middle of this crowd – on one of the balconies overlooking the Campo would be my choice!

This has been rather a long post but I had to get it all in – promise I shall move on from Italy now.

At least for a time anyway…..arrivederci!

A headache or two….

This book is an experiment and gave me a bit of a headache. The covers are patterned polypropylene (try saying that that after a glass or two of wine) I bought it from Paperchase. It’s tricky to cut and get a neat edge as it is difficult to handle and quite slippery. I ended up cutting it roughly to size with scissors and then neatened the edges with a guillotine. I decided to do a coptic binding – and then decided to complicate things further by trying this – a ‘dos à dos’ binding – two books back to back. Each book has one front cover and shares the back cover.


I went up to London today to go to the ‘Affordable Art Fair’ which is held twice a year (Spring and Autumn) in Battersea, London. 120 galleries exhibit a wide range of paintings, sculpture and photography which has to cost less than £3000, so it’s often a good place to pick up some very good art at relatively reasonable prices or just have a good old mooch about to see what is going on. Some friends of mine have a lovely art gallery in Totnes, Devon called White Space and they exhibit at the Spring fair so I was going up to see them.

White Space is owned by Sarah Bowman, a talented painter, and her husband Joe White. I have known Sarah since she was a teenager and used to babysit my sons and I have been buying her paintings since then. She comes from a very talented family – her father, my great mate Mike is also an amazing painter as is her sister Vanessa. All their work was on sale at the Art Fair and it was selling like hot cakes!

This is one of Mike’s paintings – I am particularly fond of this as it is a view of Portofino in Italy, painted from a photograph I gave Mike which I took a few years ago. Mike specializes in Dorset and European landscapes.

This next one is by Sarah. She specializes in beautiful paintings like this one which combine landscape and still life. This one is a view of the Scilly Islands which are off the coast of Cornwall, in South West England.

And finally, this one is painted by Vanessa Bowman. This still life is typical of her work, beautiful interiors painted in jewel like colours with lots of lovely details like the little bird in the window….

I have a head cold and feel rough as rats today so be gentle with me. Here’s some advice…click to enlarge.
Apart from the Rudolph the Red nosed Reindeer impersonation, my head feels like it is stuffed with cotton wool (no change there then, I hear you cry) but I managed to drive up to London and back in a day – on a Friday – in the rush hour. I am now officially exhausted. I hate driving in London. I get as far as Twickenham and I feel the stress levels ratchet up to 10. The traffic is appalling and everyone is impatient and I wasn’t sure how to get where I was going and where I was going to park when I got there – and you know how much I like parking – almost as much as this lady :)
Anyway, I managed to get to the Fair, without getting lost AND without entering the congestion charge zone AND I managed to park AND I bought a painting.
(We won’t mention that I couldn’t bring it home as I forgot it would be too big to fit in my car…..)