Monday, 27 September 2010

Eight Bloggers walk into a pub ....

It sounds like the start of a bad joke, but in actually fact eight bloggers did walk into a pub (Far From the Madding Crowd in Oxford to be precise) and had an enjoyable few hours merrily chatting.

I'd been unable to attend the previous bloggers meet up in May, so was quite excited about this one, particularly as it gave me a chance to show off my lovely home town. (Not quite devoid of tourists now, but about as close as we'll ever get!).

The afternoon started off with a small group of us meeting in Blackwells, and then pottering about Oxford. We spent an hour in the lovely Ashmolean, before heading off the quirky Albion Beatnik bookshop, and a quick trip into Somerville college.

After that we headed off to the pub and were joined by a few more bloggers. Sadly quite a few people discovered they couldn't make it, but I still think a good time was had by all who did turn up, and it was lovely to be able to put faces to the words.

I'm looking forward to the next meetup - whenever it might be. We might even be brave and head a bit further north .....

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Any excuse for a party

I have many artistic friends and relations. Somehow I seem drawn to writers, painters, actors, poets and musicians, and they all have varying degrees of success in devoting their lives to their art in this increasingly commercial and money driven world.

I have just returned from a party, designed to celebrate the second anniversary of the creation of a business called 'Lovely Giftbags'. Run by two lovely sisters , Emily and Camilla, it is a mecca of bright colours, fabrics, quaint cooking items (cupcake holders with feet, anyone?), fairy prints (as designed by fellow artist Emily Brady), board games and many other things to put in the said giftbags (which are lovely ...). Part of the celebration was also the decision for both sisters to devote their whole time to the business. Goodbye cruel world of employment! The Fraser sisters are striking out on their own!

It was a beautifully sunny day, and the enticing wares were set up in the garden and various rooms of their house. Friends and acquaintances from fairs came along and browsed (and bought) whilst consuming quantities of pink fizz, and some very delicious cake. The cash register pinged merrily, as people found at least one thing to catch their eye (or it would have done, if there had been a cash register) and a fairly prosperous birthday seemed on the cards.

Have I intrigued you all? Do you wish you knew these enterprising women, so you could have been able to sample the wares on display? Well, never fear - because they have a website! Lovely Giftbags can be found here, and amongst the many pages of things for sale, they also have a page to let you know where you can see them in brightly coloured person!

I'm so glad that the party was a success, and I can only hope their are many years ahead of them. I can't think of anything more lovely!

Thursday, 16 September 2010

New book smell ....

It's a rare thing for me to pre order a book so that I can be assured of delivery the day it's released. In fact, I've only done it once before, for a certain world saving wizard.

The book that arrived at my place of work this lunchtime is about as removed from that previous order as it's probably possible to be; for today I have received into my possession Justine Picardie's new book 'Coco Chanel: The Legend and the life'.

Obviously I have not finished reading the book (I'm on page 40, but work is too busy to allow for gratuitous book reading ....), but here's a few things I've already noticed.

Firstly, the cover ....

It's actually a little less distinctive than this ... there's a certain smoky quality to the image that perhaps reflects the mystery around which Mademoiselle is surrounded. Of course this is just the dust jacket, and if you're anything like me, you'll be wondering how different the base cover is.

Opening the cover, in order to remove the jacket, you are first presented with a plethora of mirror images of Chanel, on her famous staircase where she watched the models parading her fashions. Life the flap and a pure white cover is revealed, with a shadowy Karl Lagerfeld sketch of Chanel. Further surprises await you on the back cover, but I don't want to spoil the pleasure completely.

As for the contents themselves .... it would be fair to say they draw you in from the first. Who else admits to the guilty pleasure of picking up a biography, thumbing through the pictures, then putting back on the shelf? You can't do that with Justine's book. There are photographs, designs, motifs, dotted throughout - almost as if you are being led on a hunt, and these are the clues to help you.

In a way, that is reflective of the woman herself; and mirrors, with their reflections, are another theme that run through the first few pages. Who are we seeing? Which version of childhood are we going to believe? There's so much mystery, but in a way that's what made her name, and helped her to keep it.

I'm enthralled already, and it's only just begun. Who knows what surprises lay ahead?

Monday, 13 September 2010

Every picture tells a story

A while ago, Stuck-in-a-book wroteb a post about how picture could sum up the act of reading, and challeged other bloggers to do the same.

I have to say I was stumped, and after a few days of wracking mybrains, i gave up.

This morning, however, on my walk to work, I was thinking of the mirror I had bought over the weekend, and suddenly an idea popped into my head.

This is what reading means to me ... being able to have a whole different world reflected back at you, even whilst the general stuff of life surrounds you. It's magical - just like a mirror.

Monday, 6 September 2010

The September Issue

I don't know: you go on holiday, read 12 books in 14 days, come home and find you have no desire to pick anything up, and when you do you can't focus on it. What's that about? Did I actually find my limit whilst out in Greece? Have I discovered the outer limit of one's capacity to take in words, and consequesntly fried my brain?

I do hope not. I have to read The House of the Spirits for book club, which is next week.

In the meantime, I will try and ease myself gently back into the world of reading and catch up on the blogs of people I have missed. Reading is a career, and at times it's hard to juggle with the rest of one's life. This is one of those times - but I've got things to look forward to - just as with work. There's a wealth of treats on my shelves waiting for me to get my act together!