Much of a muchness

Things that make you go 'hmm'…

Tag Archives: West Bay

Some things never change

When I was first married, we lived in Cardiff and our best friends were a couple, Richard and Glynis, who have remained our friends for over thirty years. I am godmother to their daughter (hence the wedding reading – she is getting married in October) and Richard is the godfather to my #1 son. In 1983, my husband, our 4 month old son and I, went to live in Kuwait for three years and during this time, we kept in touch with our friends back in the UK, sending birthday cards etc. One year, on my birthday in early November, I received the following card from them.


Inside, it said ‘I’ve looked absolutely everywhere for a used birthday card that has flowers on the outside and money on the inside. Maybe next year. OK?

I sent it back to Glynis whose birthday is at the end of November, with the message ‘Found the card but still no money’ and thus a tradition was born. The card came back for Gavin’s birthday in April and we sent it back for Richard’s in May and so it has gone on for 26 years, sometimes getting lost, but always turning up again. We lost Gavin and Glynis from the rotation when both couples split up and so Richard and I continue to send the card back and forth. It has had extra sheets attached but remains intact and has just winged it’s way back to Cardiff for Richard’s birthday. Long may it continue!


My #2 son arrived back from his travels safely last week. He arrived in Dorset on Thursday accompanied by his girlfriend. It was so wonderful to see him in one piece I can’t tell you! One of his travelling companions caught dengue fever while in Kuala Lumpur. Luckily, she has recovered but it was very worrying. He was thinner but otherwise healthy and he arrived bearing gifts – a gorgeous leather handbag. I am so thrilled with it that I shan’t object if he wants to go travelling again. As my friend Claire said the other day ‘I think I might have had more children if I’d realized they could one day provide so generously for me’. Quite. We went to my favourite restaurant in these here parts (in fact it’s my favourite restaurant in any parts) The Riverside at West Bay and he insisted on paying for lunch for us all. Love it.

On Saturday, I was invited to go and see an outdoor production of ‘The Barber of Seville’ in Abbotsbury. The plan was to meet up with friends, have a picnic then watch the opera. We managed the picnic but as we sat watching the opera, the heavens opened and we were all good and soaked. It was the first rain we have had for weeks and I felt so sorry for the singer playing Rosina because she was wearing a very flimsy costume and must have been frozen to death, the wind was really cold. They carried on gamely and even incorporated the man who came on at intervals to mop the rain off the stage, into the action. I must confess that during the interval, we took shelter, broke out the picnic again and listened from afar.


I’m amazed that you can’t see the driving rain in this photograph but you can tell by the number of umbrellas belonging to the hardy souls who sat it out, just how wet it was.

The book

The book

Today, I have had news from Jemima. You might remember the wonderful illustrations she did for the book ‘Roverandom’ by J.R.R.Tolkien, (which I helped her bind for her university final project). She has just had a meeting with the Publishing Director of Harper Collins who publish all Tolkien’s work. He loves her illustrations and wants to re-publish Roverandom using her illustrations! She has left the book with them and they are going to show it to Christopher Tolkien who is J.R.R’s son, as they have to have his permission to use them in the book. Even if he doesn’t approve, they want to use her illustrations in future projects. Brilliant news, Jemima!

I’m off again next Sunday. I fly to Corfu for 10 days of sailing with my lovely sister and her husband. The day after I return, it is Glastonbury so I will be there for a weekend of Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, Crosby Stills and Nash, Blur, Madness, Status Quo, Lily Allen, Spinal Tap……. (see full line up here)

I love my life.

A very mixed bag…

It’s been a funny old couple of weeks since I last posted. Lots of good things happening and a few bad. The good things included me finding out I was a runner up in a photography competition I entered a few weeks ago. This is the image they liked, it’s East Cliff, West Bay, Dorset.


I’ve always liked this as we think that one of the clouds looks like Milo running across the sky. There is no prize for the runners up but we do get our photographs displayed in an exhibition so I am well pleased.

Another thing that has pleased me greatly was getting an orchid plant to flower for a second time. You know the ones – you buy them looking like this.


They flower for ages but eventually, all the blooms drop off and you try to follow the instructions to make it flower again. It tells you to cut it back to the first node which means in my book, you chop the flowering stem right back almost to the base to the first node from the bottom, so it ends up looking like this.


And so it remains until (if you are me) you lose patience, bin it and start again with a new one. However, I now discover that it means the first node FROM THE TOP  and lo and behold…


I have BUDS and NEW SHOOTS!! Glory be! There is hope for me as a gardener yet.

The other good news was seeing this on the Falkiners (now Shepherds) blog (which you can also reach from their web site). They have extended their famous and already impressive wall of paper and it now looks like this. I feel a trip to their fabulous shop coming on. They are also starting to run beginners courses and master classes – read all about it on their blog.


Other good things include my Dad’s 80th birthday weekend over Easter which passed smoothly. My niece arrived, terrified of dogs and screamed at the sight of Milo. With some patient intervention, she was transformed within 10 minutes into Milo’s biggest fan and she followed him around the house the entire visit. I almost had to check her bag to make sure she wasn’t smuggling him home with her. One of my sisters invited me to go sailing in Corfu with her and her husband in June – I accepted immediately and booked it all yesterday. Fab, can’t wait.


Needless to say Milo sulked for days after they went home.  The bad news also involves Milo. He is now 9 months old and after being a perfectly housetrained little sweetheart for most of this time, even learning to use the dog flap without prompting, he has suddenly started doing all sorts of unsavoury things like peeing all over the house and getting frisky with his toys and people’s legs. He has hit dog puberty! I’m hoping it’s just a phase he is going through but I’m going to talk to the vet and if this is likely to be a permanent problem – then I will have to make a big decision…

The book project continues. I have completed 7 books and matching clam shell boxes and am well into the 8th set. I ordered some new inkjet cartridges for my printer. It uses 10 different coloured pigment inks and the new set arrived today – in 10 separate padded envelopes. How wasteful and ridiculous is that?

To end, I want to point you to the Britweek website, it’s an event going on in Los Angeles to publicize the British contribution to LA life. This is my ex. He is now a rock star and a photographer and has an exhibition called ‘Poetry in the Streets’ at his gallery in LA. You can also see a video of him performing with his band GTA, at a Teenage Cancer Trust concert a few years ago at the Royal Albert Hall.



Book swappage

You may remember I was taking part in a Book Swap over at the Book Arts Forum. I made a book as a first effort, fully intending to have a second go at it but as is often the way with these things, time ran away with me and I had to use my original effort as I never got round to trying something different.

So far, so familiar. As the theme of the swap was ‘My Home Town’, I did hit on the idea of filling the pages with images of Dorset (as you can imagine I have rather a lot). This started out as a good idea until I realised that as I had used Bockingford watercolour paper for the pages, the printed photographs wouldn’t stick to the pages terribly well, but having started, I had to finish! I think they are secure but the other problem was that the pages curled slightly and even after a day or so in my book press, they wouldn’t straighten and as time had run out, I had to send it to Rhonda as it was (with a letter of apology!)

Here are photographs of some of the pages.

It’s very intimidating making a book for other bookbinders to see ‘in the flesh’ as it were and even though this is the second swap I have taken part in – I still feel as if I could have done better…. having said that, I’m really looking forward to receiving my book from Crazy Daisy Girl :-)

By the way, thanks very much indeed for the votes over at Kim’s competition. I didn’t win but happily I wasn’t vote-less which was very pleasing. You might like to check out the art work which won, a painting by Emmanuel Martinez called “Pain in the Eye’. Congratulations to the lucky winner!

Now I’m off to continue with my latest project, a huge photograph album for a friend. She has two enormous beautifully made, very expensive albums which she has filled with photographs and I am going to try to make a third which matches the others. No pressure then……. :-)

The eyes have it


This book uses a photograph I took when I was in Switzerland last year. I loved the patterns that the snow made lying on the fir tree branches. As usual I have printed it onto the inkjet bookcloth and this time, I have used a grey and silver Indian paper from Paper Source for the end paper. The book is a different size than I usually make. I buy this cartridge paper in pads of 100 sheets. They are unusually, square 250mm x 250mm and I normally make small square journals out of them. I decided to make this long rectangular book for a change. This is the original photograph, taken in Crans Montana.


Well, we survived the storms. It is still pretty windy but not as bad as Monday – the worst of the weather has moved north, (I hope Number 2 son is OK.) We have had some very rough weather and I thought you might like to see some shots of the sea at West Bay.


I spent yesterday morning at the eye hospital. I had a routine eye examination a couple of years ago and the ophthamologist spotted a ‘grey patch’ on my retina which I had to have checked out at the hospital. I was told (and I quote) it was ‘either a freckle or a melanoma’. Marvellous. No prizes for guessing which I hoped it was…. I now have to have it checked every year to see if it is growing. Luckily, it seems to be fairly static, so it is looking like it’s a freckle!

It’s a straightforward procedure, I have eye drops put in which make my eyes feel numb, as apparently the next lot of drops which dilate my pupils, would otherwise sting. I then have a really bright light shone into my eyes so the consultant can look at my retina and measure the spot. The problem arises afterwards as the drops make my eyes blurry and extremely sensitive to light, so a friend had to give me a lift home as I couldn’t drive and I had to risk looking like a sad, aspiring celeb wanabe by wearing my sunglasses on a very rainy day when I went shopping. I wasn’t asked for my autograph though as I looked like a dog’s breakfast. I was wearing no make up (because of the eye exam) and because it was so windy, I couldn’t keep an umbrella up, my hair was soaking wet and looked like I had been dragged through a bush backwards. The squinty eyed/sunglasses look was not my best look either. Just as well I was with an understanding girlie friend and wasn’t out to impress anyone.

By the way, on the dating front, (tenuous link anyone?) from my vast experience of trying to find Mr. Right and my store of helpful dating tips, here is some advice for you ladies still searching for ‘The One’.

and as for you potential Mr Rights out there…
Perhaps it’s best to just be natural…. and just in case, you can’t tell the difference, here’s a warning for you.

Mothers’ Day advice

I don’t have a new book to show you today as I was out all day yesterday. I had a very self indulgent day and went shopping in Exeter. It was really nice because I didn’t want anything in particular, so I could just browse and I ended buying a few nice things. Usually when I go shopping, I have one thing in mind that I need and I get increasingly frustrated at not being able to find it and end up coming home without whatever it is. I have chronicled here many sorry tales of hunting for shoes, boots, dresses – all of which I’m certain were in the shops until I started looking for them…..

The shops were full of Mothers’ Day gifts, cards and flowers (we celebrate it in March in the UK) and I was very smug as for once, I actually remembered to post my card to my mum in plenty of time – usually I carry it around in my handbag for days on end and only get round to posting it at the last minute.


I started writing this at 5.30am. I went out to dinner last night to one of my favourite restaurants, the Riverside which is in West Bay (shown in the photographs above) and had a fantastic meal. The Riverside is (mainly) a fish restaurant. Here’s what I ate. Clams in garlic, ginger and chilli followed by fillets of brill in a sorrel sauce with crispy spinach and then warm pancakes with passionfruit ice cream. I then made the BIG mistake of having not one, but two cups of strong coffee. As I don’t usually drink much coffee, it has kept me awake all night – and when I say all night I mean it, I haven’t been to sleep yet!! So I have been finding things to write about which are suitable for the day before Mothers’ Day. I have some suggestions for my sons (and anyone else in need of MD advice)

1 If you are thinking of sending a Mothers’ Day photograph, here’s how not to do it ….

2 These are good gifts for mothers everywhere….

3 This is a very BAD gift….


So, now you know.

And as it’s Mothers’ Day, here are some pics of my little angels….



Doesn’t time fly?

Talking of which, it is now 7.30am so I going back to bed to see if I can catch up on a couple of hours sleep…