Well, hello there, I’m back! I have so much to tell you I don’t know where to begin. The new haircut? The holiday plans? My meeting up with an old friend? The lovely walks? No, it has to be my excuse for my absence. After #2 son’s graduation, he came back home with me and we have been hanging out together before he heads off again. It’s been a nice reminder of how life used to be, having a boy with a bottomless pit for a stomach in the house again, it’s been one long round of cooking, food shopping and laundry, movies, music and cooking. And more laundry.
The graduation ceremony was a great thrill for me and the rest of the family. I thought I would explode with pride. My son looked so handsome in his gown (minus cap, you will notice. Apparently, the graduates had been throwing them into the air for photographs after the ceremony and it was thought that was too dangerous – someone had hurt their eye a year or so ago, so political correctness prevailed and they were banned apart from in the official studio portraits – utter madness.)
My two sons and my ex and I, had a great few days in Leeds, it really is a fun city with lots of great shopping (unless you are shopping with/for two very fussy sons – and I thought women were supposed to be bad!) and restaurants. We had one particularly wonderful dinner at a restaurant called Anthony’s which was a bit ‘Heston Blumenthal’ if you know what I mean! Every dish had at least one ingredient that made you say ‘What?!’ (risotto of white onion, parmesan air and espresso? Or poached quail, pea sorbet, cocoa, morels? Or how about my dessert of apple parfait, pork filo and sage ice cream?) We were all totally amazed at how delicious it all was, in fact we would go so far as to say it was one of the best (if not the best) dinner we had ever eaten.
Since we returned, #2 son has spent his days fishing in the river which runs through our garden – amazingly he actually managed to catch a fish yesterday (which he threw back). I don’t know who was more surprised #2 son, me or the fish! He saw an otter in the river while he was fishing but by the time he had shouted me to come and look, it had gone – probably terrified by the loud shouting coming from the river bank :-)
We did manage to spot a fox in the field next to my garden. Apparently, it has four fox cubs which we haven’t managed to see yet but the mother fox comes out every evening for a walk around the field. We managed to catch some shots of her including this one of the fox eyeing up a crow which seemed quite oblivious.
I love the view into the field, as do some others it seems…
We have had a really fun time since we got back from Leeds. I’m very conscious that these times together are going to be much rarer in the future. My nest will be well and truly empty. On the bright side I will have lots of time to make books and play tennis… (knee is finally better, by the way). I have been working on a photo album which I am making as a gift for a friend whose daughter is about to give birth to a little girl – my friend’s first grandchild. Here is a sneak preview.
By the way, an update on my garden furniture saga. PayPal finally decided in my favour and have refunded me £500 which is the most they can, the balance is still to come from the dodgy seller, (Gemma at Land of Sofas) so I’m not holding my breath. I was contacted by someone else who read about my problems here, she had also bought furniture from this wretched woman but had been too late to file a claim with PayPal, so she stands to lose all her money.
When I was searching for alternative garden furniture, I found a web site selling the same furniture, under a different name (Home Living Online) but I could tell from the telephone number that it was the same people. Please do not buy from this company. I have reported them to the Trading Standards people and I hope that they will stop them from swindling any more unsuspecting customers.
Well, it’s nice to be back blogging and I have missed my visits to my blogging friends – thank you for your concern at my absence, but fret not! #2 son is off on holiday next week so the house will be quiet again and I can get back into a routine. Books and blogging here I come….
I’m so excited I am ready early for once and raring to go! Wimbledon awaits. The weather forcast is OK(ish) so I am hoping to see Roger Federer play someone I’ve never heard of (Gicquel anyone?) Cue gratuitous Roger shot….and not even playing tennis :-)
The next match up should be amazing – two Amazonian women players, Amelie Mauresmo against Serena Williams.
What a slugfest that should be. I just hope that Serena doesn’t have to wear her very strange tennis macintosh thing. No rain please!
I’m taking my camera, so even though our seats are so high up we may get nosebleeds, I will take some shots of my day to share the atmosphere with you. I am off to Glastonbury on Saturday so next post won’t be until Monday. #2 son went on ahead to Glastonbury yesterday and it has just started to rain. Why am I not surprised…..
Jenny, who writes an hilarious blog over at I’m having a Thought Here-The Latest Whatever, tagged me a while ago to tell you 5 weird things about me. I have already done this meme a couple of times now (you can check out the two previous occasions here and here) so I hesitated to burden you with even more of my oddities. However, on reflection I came up with yet another five quite easily so here they are:
1 I am a bit of a pedant about grammar and spelling. I realise of course, that I am now laying myself open to being corrected every time I write my blog but so be it….
2 My 25th wedding anniversary was on September 11th 2001. A very bad day to be celebrating anything. My (ex) husband had bought me a ring to celebrate the occasion. It was two long thin baguette diamonds – which looked too much like the fateful twin towers for comfort. I have hardly ever worn it.
3 My first pregnancy lasted 11 months. I was originally told my son was going to be born on 25th January but when I had a scan at the beginning of December, they said he was too small and my pregnancy wasn’t as advanced as they had originally thought. They then said he was due on March 9th. He was actually born on March 19th. He still finds it very hard to get out of bed…. :-)
4 I was once on the television local news. I had been shopping in Waitrose and as I steered my wobbly trolley around a corner I was confronted by a cameraman and a woman holding a bowl of muesli. Apparently Dorset Cereals muesli (delicious-highly recommended) is selling like mad out in the Caribbean because they consider it to be an aphrodisiac. She wanted me to try a spoonful and comment. I appeared on the local news looking particularly startled and gormless, mumbling through a mouthful of muesli. Marvellous.
5 When I did my degree, I was the only girl in the class of 20 boys. At the time, Metallurgy was not a subject that appealed to girls. I only chose it because I did Maths, Physics and Chemistry ‘A’ levels and as I was spectacularly indecisive, I decided to study Metallurgy as I had been told it used all three subjects and I didn’t have to make a decision. Bad idea. And as I was spectacularly shy too, I barely spoke to anyone for most of the time I was there. What a waste!
(This image is of Metal Corrosion and was taken with the PAXcam digital microscope camera on an Olympus metallograph at Battelle Advanced Materials. So there.)
I’m not tagging anyone in particular but I would like lots of you to have a go at this (if only to let me know I’m not as weird as all that!) Just leave a link in the comments so I can see how weird you are what you have to say.
I am very thrilled that Number 2 so has just arrived home from university after completing his final year. (Where did that time go? It doesn’t seem like 5 minutes since I was dropping him off on his first day – three years ago!) He gets his results on Thursday so we are on tenterhooks until then…. It seems so odd to think that soon he will be off in the big wide world. I could get all wistful about how time flies and start reminiscing about when they were both babies but thereby lies depression and gloom, so I am just going to show what HE was like as a nipper and move swiftly on….
You may have noticed that I have gone quiet on the bookbinding front…. The large album had a major disaster a few days ago. I was sticking the cover paper onto the board cover and thought I was being very clever. (Ha! I should have known better!) Instead of putting the glue onto the paper and having to manhandle a large gluey piece of paper, I thought, ‘I know, I will put the glue on the board and then I can manhandle a DRY piece of paper into place’. Genius. Except that the paper wrinkled terribly when it came into contact with the gluey board (I’m thinking that maybe this was because the act of spreading the glue onto the paper, stretches the paper first but doing it this way, the paper stretches after it is on the board and so, wrinkles up).
I tried to smooth out the paper but I managed to tear it and as I didn’t have any more of this particular paper, it was a disaster of epic proportions! And it was a Brazilian marbled paper I ordered from Paper Mojo in the US. However, I have to say, Shelly at Paper Mojo was a star and has Fedexed me a couple of sheets which have just arrived. (I ordered a spare sheet too!) Luckily, as Number 2 son is now at home, I have the extra pair of hands I needed to finish covering the book, so hopefully, the next stage will go a bit more smoothly…. fingers crossed.
I am listening to Coldplay’s new album Viva La Vida and I like it very much. Have I ever mentioned what a HUGE Coldplay fan I am? I have seen them twice in concert in London and then I saw them at Glastonbury three years ago. They are fantastic live. This is the new Apple iTunes ad featuring them singing the title track from the album. I suppose it is just a coincidence that Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow called their first baby Apple?
The only other thing I need to rave about is the match I watched yesterday between Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the final of the Stella Artois Championships at Queen’s Club in London. Sublime tennis – so exciting and as close a match as you could imagine. Nadal won eventually but Djokovic played wonderfully and it was a very close run thing.
What a shame my knee is still tweaking and I can’t play tennis otherwise I would have played like a demon today after watching such an inspirational match.
I originally made this photograph album as a gift for a friend who celebrated her birthday last week, but as with the best laid plans, I didn’t finish it in time and so ended up buying her a gift instead. This album is much larger than the usual books I make (as you can see from the photograph) and was subsequently much more difficult to make as handling large pieces of gluey paper is really difficult. Well, it is for me! This was also going to be a dry run for an even larger album I am going to make for another friend who wants it to match two albums she already owns. I’ll keep you posted how I get on…
I’ve had a really action packed weekend. It was a Bank Holiday here in the UK. As is often the case, the weather was horrible – very wet and cold but I still managed to have a good time. The weekend consisted of a friend’s birthday party, meeting up with various friends and lots of eating, followed by lots of walking to counteract the effects of the eating. You may have noticed my blogging has been sporadic recently, to say the least . Unfortunately/fortunately, this may have to continue as my social life has picked up markedly mainly due to the fact I have (at the risk of sounding like Jane Austen) – a potential ‘gentleman caller’. Here is Jane’s advice on how to find Mr. Darcy…. (it comes at about 1m 15secs)
It seems the amount I am able to blog varies inversely with the state of my social life! The social drought since Christmas has led to a very productive phase on the book-making/blogging front but this pace is difficult to maintain at the moment, so I intend to aim to write something every few days rather than every day. Just so you know. If I suddenly pick up the pace on the blogging front, you will know why….and I will be back to this….
Just as everyone returns to work after the holiday, the weather has improved and today was wonderfully warm and sunny – great for tennis – apart from the fact I didn’t give my tennis skirt it’s first outing of the year (as the sight of my white legs would have probably blinded the other players) so I was actually too hot wearing joggers. As it was such a gorgeous day, I put the hood down on the car for the first time this year when I was driving home and drove along the coast road. I spotted a glimpse of blue by the side of the road so I parked and found this. Click on each image to see a full sized version.
On Saturday, I walked into Bridport. There is a thriving busy street market on Wednesdays and Saturdays and as this Saturday was warm and sunny, the market was buzzing. After my visit to the tiny art shop to stock up on paper and glue, I was on my way home when I spotted a fabric stall which was selling really gorgeous fabrics at very discounted prices.
I noticed some of that plasticized cotton fabric which can be used for kitchen tablecloths (as it is very wipe-able!) I bought several prints as I thought it would be a nice to have some books with wipe-able covers, useful for using in the kitchen or if you are an artist and prone to getting paint or glue everywhere! This book uses one of these fabrics, it’s a cotton ‘toile de jouy’, a very traditional print. Toile de Jouy originated in France in the 1800s. In the French language, the phrase literally means “cloth from Jouy-en-Josas”, a town of north-central France. They are normally, rustic scenes in red, blue or black printed onto a cream background. They have become very popular for furnishing fabrics. I hope you like this book.
I was very touched by all the kind comments after my last post, all those compliments, I think you may have created a monster…..
Only joking :-) There are times when I really do wish I was amazing. This morning was a case in point.
I played tennis this morning. Correction. I played tennis very badly this morning. I normally fall out of bed at the last minute and rush off to tennis without any breakfast or even a cup of tea, arrive just in time and manage to play reasonably well. This morning, I woke early, had a leisurely cup of tea and a bowl of muesli and arrived at my friends house early, so we had a chat about my books and calligraphy (she owns a copy of the ‘Kites‘ piece which you may remember) – and then we played tennis and I was RUBBISH. Very depressing…
I was cheered however, when I spotted this, my favourite tree, in all its glory. Gorgeous. I just adore these flowering cherries and must get one for my garden. This tree would have looked so much nicer against a clear blue sky but it was solid grey, in fact 5 minutes later, it was pouring with rain and hailstones.
I have always wanted to go to Japan to see a cherry blossom festival. Cherry trees are called ‘Sakura’ in Japanese and you can read about them here.
Here is the French group ‘Air’ and the track called ‘Cherry Blossom Girl’. Listen to this dreamy music and gaze at a still from one of my favourite movies, ‘Memoirs of a Geisha’. Luscious Ken Watanabe for you girls and for once, some eye candy for you boys too…. gorgeous Ziyi Zhang. And lots of cherry blossoms, how romantic….