Sunday, 31 July 2011

Country House

In case you wondered - the book I slaved over on Wednesday did make it home safely with the recipient after the retirement do - and he rang me not once, but twice, the following day to say how delighted he was with it, so I'm pleased that I persevered.

I said I'd show you the last pictures of my holiday.  After I left the others at Beachy Head, I went to Charleston, a lovely country house tucked away at the end of a little lane, which was the weekend retreat of the Bloomsbury Set.  It was owned by Vanessa and Clive Bell, having being found for them by Vanessa's sister Virginia Woolf

I had a guided tour and the inside of the house was really unusual, in that virtually every surface was painted  - walls, tabletops, doors, furniture, plates - everything was decorated with painted images and patterns. There was no photography allowed inside, so you'll have to take my word for it, or, even better, I recommend a visit if you are ever in the Sussex area.

I did take some pictures outside though
Felt a bit sorry for this poor girl - I'd have liked to have pruned the rose that was grazing her nose
And this guy clearly has something to look grumpy about
And the flowers were glorious
And as for the Bloomsbury Set - a bit of a strange arrangement.  Soon after Vanessa and Clive Bell moved into Charleston, Vanessa became infatuated with artist Duncan Grant, and moved him and his male lover David Garnett into the house.  Vanessa and Duncan did have an affair, (I'm surprised any of them had time for gardening) resulting in their daughter Angelica, born in 1918, although for many years Angelica believed that Clive Bell was her father.
Angelica subsequently married David Garnett, her biological father's lover, and 26 years her senior. They went on to have four daughters.   Mmmm.  Life get's complicated, don't it?
Must have been an interesting childhood, so I'm about to read the book 'Deceived with Kindness - A Bloomsbury Childhood' by Angelica Garnett.

Country House - BLUR

Thursday, 28 July 2011


I'd intended to spend yesterday doing sketchbook-y stuff for my homework, following the mini tutorials set by Gina  but ended up spending the whole day buggering about covering a 'good wishes' book for a guy who is retiring this week - I'm off into town for our team 'lunch' and drinks later. I wouldn't do it for just anybody, but I've worked with him for over ten years, and as he's off with his lovely family to live in Brighton, I thought it would be nice to make something a bit special, instead of the usual 'Farewell' card, hence I found myself volunteering to do something with the album everyone had signed.  

I worked until the early hours of the morning on Tuesday, (in between watching 'Meet Joe Black' - one of my favourite films) making mock up photos (he likes to dress up in women's clothes, but assures us that it's only at  fancy dress parties).  On the pretext of showing a colleague how impressive the zoom is on my new camera, I'd managed to take a couple of pictures of him in the office on Tuesday, so using those and a couple of downloaded pics, including  'Dorothy' from the Wizard of Oz, I cobbled them together.  It's probably simple if you are an expert at Photoshop, but I'm not, so it involved a lot of printing and reprinting to get the images the right size, then a bit of Blue Peter cutting and sticking, and then more scanning and reprinting until they looked half reasonable.
Then yesterday morning I started on the cover.  Now to look at it, you wouldn't think it was a whole days work, but to start with I messed about with a photo in PSP to make it kind of Andy Warhol-ish, which I was going to put onto fabric.  First of all, the cheap transfer paper I'd bought from a large supermarket didn't work, (that Asda go back!) so there were 3 abortive attempts before I found some better stuff and succeeded in printing it out.  I ironed it onto some cotton, but then it wouldn't stitch onto that fake leather fabric without puckering, so I tried bondaweb, but the iron was too hot and damaged the surface of the leather stuff.  
Feeling slightly harrassed by now, I cut the whole thing out again, reprinted onto the decent transfer paper, transferred it onto heavier weight fabric and stitched it down successfully.  I then stitched it into the cover based on the measurements I'd got.  
Fortunately, I got someone to drop the book off yesterday evening, just to make sure everything was tickety boo, and it was a good job I did because it didn't fit, so I carefully unpicked it,  and stitched it back together again. And now, it fits, the picture is more of less central, I've printed and stuck in a front page, and put the mock up photos into the book.
So all's well that ends well.  Even the burn where my inner forearm met the hot iron has stopped stinging.

I wouldn't mind, but he'll probably get pi***d and leave it on the train anyway.

Burnt - The Futureheads

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Down By The Seaside

I've just had a week away with my sis and her family in exotic Eastbourne.  Pevensey Bay to be precise.
Weather started a bit iffy, but that just gave us an excuse to visit every second hand/charity/sewing shop in East Sussex.
I started in Brighton and went on here
but not on here
We went to Rye - LOTS of vintage shops and cobbled streets
and I managed not to have any of these ...
Then the next day we went to Lewes, and visited the castle grounds
But probably spent more time visiting the Patchwork Dog and Basket

and these are the said "Patchwork Dogs"
At this point, I feel I should nominate my b-in-law for an OBE for outstanding patience.  Never has one man been asked to wait outside so many fabric shops, in so many towns.  
I was tempted to go and try this dress on 
(must be the Babs Cartland influence, earlier in the year) but I managed to resist.  Not sure it would look right at O2 Shepherds Bush or Brixton Academy. 
The weather picked up on Friday, and we had a walk at Beachy Head.  
Incidentally, I'm really pleased with my new camera, how about this for a zoom on a compact?
My sis and family sitting on a bench without the zoom ...
and then from exactly the same spot, with full zoom...
I'm really impressed!  Must take care NOT to let this one get wet.
Oh, I went somewhere else afterwards, I know how boring other peoples holiday pictures can be, so I'll post those another day.  OI!! Wake up!!

Down By The Seaside - Led Zeppelin

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Redhead Walking

I've come over a bit 'Janet Street-Porter'  No I haven't started walking the Pennine Way, or had my teeth altered.  I'm not about to appear on 'Have I Got News For You' and I'm not writing a newspaper column.  
I've had my hair coloured.
It's very bright.
But I like it!
I know my Mum will tell me off and say it doesn't look natural.  I should bl**dy hope not!  I don't pay out all that money for it to look natural!
It WAS rather expensive, but I have to say it was worth the money, if only for Tom, my hairdresser, to say when I got to the salon - "Ooh, look at you, gone all skinny!" (I've lost a bit recently).  
I'm having a 'not too bad for an old bird' kind of day.
Now, if I could just arrange to 'accidentally' bump into with Ray Davies/George Clooney/Johnny Depp/ or similar ......

Redhead Walking - REM

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Anne Boleyn

Last day of term for our Spectrum group.  We don't meet again until September, and then we'll be moving to our new hall in Steeple Morden.
Gina set us a messy task for the morning - messy but not too taxing, it was a kind of grown-up 'colouring-in'.
Anyway, we got into gangs of four and worked on a joint masterpiece, using one chalky pastel each, plus black and white for shading/highlights.  When we'd finished, it was divided up into four, and we each got a piece.

We each cut a strip from the piece we'd been given, and cut the strip into smaller chunks (still with me?) and then had to reproduce those chunks in a larger scale, using the same colour pastels.

The last three are mine.  It was a really good exercise, but with hindsight, I probably shouldn't have worn a black top.
We had a delicious shared lunch with savoury cheesecake, salmon and asparagus tart, cream filled home-made meringues and fruit, and a sponge cake to finish.  (I took the crisps, and chopped up celery and carrots for the dips - you have to know your limits).
Fortunately we got away early so I was able to nip home to change my multi-coloured pastel-covered top, for something a bit cleaner, before heading off into town again to meet some friends at The Globe Theatre to see a production of Anne Boleyn.  I've never been to The Globe before - the setting is fabulous.

The Cast come out and 'meet and greet' before the performance

We all really enjoyed the play - it was funny and entertaining so do go if you get the opportunity, but I recommend that you pay a quid to hire one of their cushions - the seats are a bit uncomfortable. Oh and take something warm to wear - it gets chilly when you're sitting still for hours, exposed to the elements.

Anne Boleyn - Rick Wakeman  
(to be honest, I don't particularly recommend listening to this, I never liked Yes, and I prefer Rick Wakeman now when he's being a witty raconteur, but  it happens to be appropriate)

Wednesday, 13 July 2011


Sadly my old camera never recovered from it's soaking a few weeks ago, so I did a bit of research and decided to replace it with a similar one but upgraded - and I'm really pleased with it. It's only a little digital but it's got a pretty good zoom on it.  So I took it with me to the Imelda May gig at Somerset House last night - a great venue if the weather is good, and luckily it was.   If it had looked like it might rain I wouldn't have taken the new camera, and I had a plastic bag and a brolly on standby JUST in case.  
The venue looks really magical when the sun goes down and the lights come on (especially when they're pink)
Imelda has an amazing voice and and the whole band are great performers -  I love it when the band members look as if they are enjoying themselves.
Anyway, no more chat - I'll just try to impress you with my photographs.  No great skill involved on my part, it's all down to the camera being idiot proof.  Well, apart from the idiot next to me who kept waving her arms about from side to side, but I managed to dodge her now and then.

Just to prove I wasn't THAT close ...
Get the facial expression of the guy on the double bass

IMELDA - Mark Knopfler