An elegant sufficiency

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

It's a wrap - eventually

I was prepared. I had seven bags full of samples, materials and enough ideas I thought.

But perhaps I wasn't quite prepared for the close encounter which was scheduled for this afternoon. I imagined one man and a digital video camera...I got a whole film crew, just back from filming my favourite Thursday evening fashion progamme. I felt very small, very inexperienced and rather lonely at times.

Though I'd got everything together and am normally confident of my ability to get on and do things, faced with all of this, even sewing a button on becomes challenging.

The best bits were when I could stand back and let them get on with it.

The worst bits were when, at the fifteenth attempt, I was asked to speak in a more lively manner.

And to hold my embroidery frame just so, to keep it in focus.

And to remember what we'd agreed I'd say.

And to keep the thread visible and not allow the loose fabric to catch as I turn the frame over to show the reverse.

And to make sure that I hold the end with my thumb as I said and not use my finger (as I did).

And not to hold it so my hand created a huge shadow over the stitch.

And to relax.

And smile.

And look as though I was enjoying myself.

And when I'd done all of that and finally been able to start a thread without a knot, do about two inches of simple running stitch and secure the end...

Could I do it all again, right from the beginning, this time to film from a different angle.

And then again (exactly the same) a third time to film my face and hands. aaaagh!

For one who can't remember what she said just ten seconds ago, this was the biggest challenge. To their credit, the whole film crew were patience personified and did their best to put me at my ease, to suggest ways of getting around a challenging bit and were totally charming and professional throughout.

Here, the lighting engineer and the cameraman try to overcome those pesky shadows in the embroidery shots. I don't really think I convinced them to take up the needle.

But it's over. Done. Wrapped. Most will end up on the cutting room floor, the remainder on a learning channel sometime in the autumn. Watch this space.

( think I'm going to TELL you where to find it?!)

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Glorious weather

It's been a fantastic summers day here - not too hot, but clear blue sky and enough of a light breeze to remind us that we're not in California.

I'm experiencing a little self-inflicted stress here right now. Can't say much more at the moment but will tell the full story in due course. Anyway, it was fun to go out for lunch today and take my mind off the prep I need to do.

As we drove past the allotments just over the lane from home, I spotted some of my favourite plants, standing high above the surrounding wall. I just had to go and take some photographs.

As I walked through the mish-mash of vegetable patches, I smiled as I caught sight of a cute scarecrow.

I laughed out loud when I saw the fierce creature in a "cage" close by!

I'm not sure how effective he is though - that patch was not quite as prolific as the others, sadly. Perhaps the birds behave as they used to do in the old Roobarb and Custard TV show - just sit and laugh!


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Meet Otto

Otto is ready to play

Making a bit of an entrance

Enjoying the pose

Inspired by a Reclining Buddha, I think.

But getting totally whacked by it all and now needing a lie down

Thanks Ysolda. It's a great pattern!

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Otto takes shape

Last evening, as we sat watching an episode of The Gilmore Girls that we felt sure we'd seen before but didn't remember* (the one before Laine's wedding) Otto took shape.

He's quite a character, even with just the one and a half limbs and no face....

*we think we must have fallen asleep


Saturday, July 19, 2008

Otto the bear

Packrat that I am, I ordered the Otto pattern from Ysolda - I loved Jordi's Elijah and a new baby in the family was enough of an excuse to start knitting a bear.

I bought a couple of balls of Cashsoft Cotton in John Lewis yesterday - on sale at 70p a ball, so a bargain to boot. But of course, when I got home and read the pattern (good idea, eh, read the pattern!) I realised I'd bought 4ply, not DK. Oh well, set to on 2.5mm needles and I am perfectly happy with the size and tension.

I've read the comments on Ravelry about Otto and was concerned at the "anteater" comparisons. I took someone's advice to shorten his nose a little by decreasing every row and was pleased with the result. As I stuffed his head, I took care to shape it nicely and took the opportunity to mark the eye position as I finished the thread end off from his nose.

But as I started to pick up his neck stitches it became clear that all was not right. Yes, his head is upside down! Am I bothered by this? Is Otto bothered by it? Not in the slightest. In fact, I think that his bear-like profile is rather grand!

Ysolda has written a great pattern to follow, easy to understand and clearly explained. quite why I've managed to go so far off piste I have no idea!


Friday, July 18, 2008

Artists at work

Today we went to Weston-Super-Mare, where this part of the beach was full of children building sandcastles. It was great to see so much enthusiastic activity on the beach, for it wasnt the warmest of days.

Perhaps the inspiration for their work was happening a little further along, where the International Sand Sculpture Association was having a competition with a theme of the continents of the world.
They were still working on Asia.

North America was pretty impressive

Antarctica was simply amazing, what with the perspective and all that.

Look at the detail! And the flag is made of sand too. How?

We spent a happy hour wandering about taking photographs and marvelling at the work

trying to decide which we liked best

before going into the tea rooms just along the way for hot chocolate and a bacon sandwich!


Saturday, July 12, 2008


We've been in London overnight, at an awards do at the Dorchester (which explains yesterday's photo of the day). As we drove home earlier this evening, we heard that Fairford Air Tattoo had been cancelled due to the weather, which surprised us, for it's not been too bad up there in the capital. Seems as though the car parks were waterlogged though, and I imagine that would have caused a huge problem.

Mind you, so might have this...

As we approached Swindon, I could see this huge thundercloud looming in front of us. Maggie, it looks like it's coming from your house - hope it's not Robin's frustration!!

It started to rain heavily for a very shrot time indeed - probably less than five minutes, and then the sun came out as we drove through and out the other side.

By the time we reached Cirencester, the sky was blue and you'd never have imagined it had been any different.

Whilst we were in London, I dropped into the Nokia shop to ask for help sending photographs to my blog from my N95 phone. You wouldn't believe how helpful and patient the response was - I was in there over an hour and am so nearly there. I think what remains is a Vodafone problem, but those guys in the Nokia store in Regent Street deserve huge praise for their tenacity and determination. At one point there were five phones and three pairs of hands on the problem - I sat back and let them get on with it - you know how fast those thumbs and fingers can fly around those little keypads!!


Thursday, July 10, 2008

The wall

When I drive in a westerly direction from home, my journey often takes me along a wonderful stretch of Cotswold stone wall. It's a particularly special wall, for not only does it run in a single stretch for more than a mile, the design is unusual with a ridge running most of the length about a foot from the top. When, as often happens, a stretch collapses due to a collision or maybe just the weather, it is repaired almost immediately by a team of stonemasons who work inside a specially constructed tent. When they are finished, it's nearly impossible to see where they have worked, so fine is their craftsmanship.

One end of the wall begins at this unassuming gateway, set at right angles to the road with two fine pillars.

The other end is the entrance to the park itself, and a small lodge at the gateway.

Apart from knowing that this was the boundary wall for Lypiatt Park, I knew little else about the place. Some time ago, we had a talk at my WI from someone who'd been a housekeeper, but at the time I made no connection with the grand country house where she had worked and my favourite wall.

But lo and behold, in this month's Cotswold Life magazine, the owner of Lypiatt Park is profiled and it would appear that exciting things are happening somewhere behind that wall as a Sculpture Park is planned. Formerly the home of internationally renowned sculptor, Lynn Chadwick , it appears to have also been won in a bet placed by Dick Whittington. Not only that, but it might also have been the location of a fateful meeting between Robert Catesby and his co-conspirators (inlcuing Guy Fawkes) when the plan for the Gunpowder Plot was finialised.

Who'd have thought it?


Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Back from LaLa land

Since we got back on Sunday, I've been trying very hard to upload my video of the 4th July fireworks, firstly via YouTube and then using Vimeo. In both case, my file was too large and my video-editing experience isn't sufficient to make dealing with that a speedy process. So, for now, a few pictures to be going on with.

I think that it may be the case that Americans living overseas are more enthusiastic about their 4th July celebrations than those at home. Certainly, our expectations of a day full of red white and blue, energetic patriotism, parades and the like were not quite accurate. Of course, the signs were there, some smaller businesses were closed for the day and we spotted the occasional person dressed in stars and stripes, but otherwise this looked like a normal day, much the same as any other.

In the evening we headed, along with 24,996 others, to the Hollywood Bowl where the LA Philharmonic were celebrating 50 years of the Dodgers Baseball Team in Los Angeles together with the traditional Independence Day concert.

Mary had secured us excellent seats and we had a fine view of the stage and the screens on this beautiful Los Angeles summer evening.

The orchestra turned out wearing Dodgers shirts in the spirit of the occasion and the atmosphere was warm and funny. We loved every minute.
And yes, we were on our best behaviour!

By the time the fireworks were due, darkness had fallen and the crowd were expecting something very special. We had never seen such a spectacular display - I hope I can share it with you soon!

Afterwards, we made our way home via the backstage area and had this privileged view of the Bowl, as seen from the stage. My goodness, what it must feel like to perform in front of such a huge audience!

As we passed the iconic entrance before taking the short walk back to Mary's apartment, we remarked on the suitably splendid finale to our trip. We have loved every minute of it!!


Saturday, July 05, 2008

Red White and Blue

When we planned our trip, we decided to stay an extra day or two to take in the 4th July celebrations and were delighted when Mary booked tickets for the Hollywood Bowl show - a great way to finish our holiday.

Yesterday, we had a great time doing one or two last minute things, taking in some of those "Only in LA" moments - where a dog's life includes such luxuries as being taken for a walk in a papoose and a place where you can take your owner (on a leash of course) to buy your home baked doggy goodies.

There was time for frozen yoghurt before heading out - we kidded ourselves that it was better for us than ice cream but it was so yummy I very much doubt it.

As we drove in a round about kind of way to Mary's, there was time to snap one of those buildings which always make us smile as we pass by.

The show last night will be fully reported later. For now, there are suitcases to be packed and just that bit more of Californian goodness to be experienced before we head on home.

See you there!


Thursday, July 03, 2008

...and finally

..three days in our favourite place of all, Santa Monica. We love LA, we feel a real buzz when we drive down Sunset, along Wilshire, towards the ocean. We stay in an hotel which considers itself "hip" when we aren't hip in the slightest, but it suits us and hopefully this time, they won't lose our car.

We are comfortable here. We've been here enough that we feel no need to go sightseeing but simply enjoy hanging out with friends, soaking up the great atmosphere, the comfortable temperatures and, of course, enjoying delicious food. Driving here from San Diego today, we spent a happy hour with Anne in Santa Ana, sharing tales of our travels and giggling about the silly things we'll remember long after we're home.
Here, more than anywhere, we consider ourselves fortunate. Fortunate enough to be able to share a bit of the good life here every once in a while and better still, know so many lovely people to share it all with.
The last three days of our trip will be as fun-packed as the first two weeks, I'm sure, but somehow, they will be extra-special!


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Ah, the ocean!

"Home" in San Diego is this gorgeous downtown apartment, thanks to our generous friends Kevin and this picture, framed in the arch. Just there, behind the hedge is a beautiful pool in which I enjoyed a cool dip when we got back yesterday.

Though we love being in the city with everything a step away, today we explored a little further afield. First stop, the "Old City" - actually a couple of freeway junctions north of here.

For some reason, none of us was overimpressed by this way too commercial collection of faux historic buildings and we didn't stay long. Instead we got back in the car and drove to La Jolla, a little further north, where we enjoyed mooching the classy streets and taking a little ocean air.

Not only that, but there was a great textile art gallery there too. How very civilised!