Tuesday, 31 August 2010

The Common Reader!

Last week while in Southwold I realised that I had lost a pair of shoes I had bought 2 days earlier in Norwich. I was gutted as I rarely buy anything new these days, shoes being an exception - not that I buy a lot of shoes but I don't buy those second hand - or foot). Returning via Norwich on Sunday I was amazed and delighted to track them down at the Forum (which houses Norwich's library). Why was I in the library in the first place? I'd gone to see the work of "Potter Jotter" who produces gorgeous pieces of pottery with some inspired by patchwork quilts. Her work was beautiful ....

I loved the new building and was thrilled to see that it housed the library. I always wanted to be a librarian (as opposed to a library assistant) and didn't make it due to my inability to stay the course at uni. This library was amazing with a huge collection of books, masses of computers, magazinesplaces to have a drink and full of people milling about. I've never seen so many people in a library. This was where I lost both myself and clearly my shoes for some time. I wandered and browsed and sat and wished I lived in Norfolk!

I'm a regular user of my own library and worked there voluntarily as a child of 13 for a while such was my desire to be surrounded by books. When I started work it was at a university library where I worked in the local history and special collections (full of fabulous old manuscripts and illuminated works - my idea of heaven). I stayed until my father persuaded me to get a proper job in the Civil Service with a pension. (Why did I let him do that?)

An article in "The Spectator" today states that 60% of adults have not visited a library in the last year. Much of this is apprently down to cheap internet booksellers but I for one can't afford to buy all the books I would want to read. What I love to do is to read others blogs and see what is recommended and then through my on-line reservation service reserve of order whatever I fancy. For a fee of 25p my library will source what ever I want from around the county and its often there for me within 48 hours. If they don't have it they often buy it and I'm often the first to borrow one of the latest titles - including the newest craft and decorating books!

I have to say I don't like the fact that my library needs security on the door after 5 due to the local unsavoury element, nor do I like teenagers yelling across the library to their friends and children running around and harassing pensioners quietly browsing or enjoying a coffee while reading the paper.

I do think there could be more creative thought around the opening hours. I'm sure there are people who would like the library to open once a week from say 1-9 so that its available to those who work all day but so that it doesn't extend the opening times. I'm sure also that some people would like to work a different pattern one day a week to enable them to vary their routine. I know that the Big Society idea is to use more volunteers although in my library our books are logged in and out by an electronic hole in the wall so they can't reduce staff to much below the current level. Staff are still required to humiliate those returning their books late as they have to attend THE DESK (the grown up version of the "naughty step"). I have learnt to respond with a big smile and a cheery " Well, it all increases the funds available for new books!"

But back to my shoes - yes - the library in Norwich was open on a Sunday and they had my shoes.( Why they needed to know the make I'm not sure - do people regularly leave their shoes in the library. I'd forgotten in my dismay and had to resort to drawing a picture!) Only one floor was open apparently but it was buzzing and should, I think, be used as a model for other libraries.

Am I alone?

Love Wend

Friday, 27 August 2010

Nosing around Norwich

After my spell in Scotland I was still on leave and had a few days at home followed by a little trip to Southwold . I stopped off in Norwich and thought I'd share some of my highlights.

This poster in Jarrolds an independent department store stopped me in my tracks. What a simple delightful way to identify the specialities of an area. This was designed by a Norfolk family but Id love to see one for each county.

They show all the things I think of when visitng East Anglia - particularly those BIG SKIES!

I always look out for independent shops and avoid the high street names and loved this book shop. Called The Book Hive the window contained some hives made from paper which opened to reveal quirky street scenes.

I believe these were the work of a an art student called Justine Austin (hope I have that right - I'm going from memory!)

There were three different ones and each had some found objects on or in it. The first one has little beech nuts hanging down

this one an old brooch and a card with segs (when did you last see any of those?)

and this one lots of matchboxes...

A couple of closer shots but I'm afraid they are taken through the shop window so apologies for the quality.

Where do people get their inspiration and ideas from!

I liked the juxtaposition of these two shops!

And wished I had time to go and see this exhibition!

And wouldn't you love to go into anywhere with an invitation like this at the door? Maybe next time!

Hope you have a great holiday weekend and maybe a sexy little cupcake?

Love Wend

Monday, 16 August 2010

Vintage fix

While in Edinburgh I had to check out "Armstrongs" vintage clothing store for a vintage fix.

The shop was packed with items of desire for men and women;

festooned with flags,

with rail

upon rail

of loveliness.

This guy just hung around looking impressive

but joy of joy vintage pinnies - long, short, Mrs Overall style and frilly.

Loving those fabrics,

but how much? HOW MUCH!

I should have bought a couple of cashmere sweaters (there were racks of these too) which were very reasonable - £15 (probably due to the fact that they weren't perfect.) I now realise I could easily have customised them a bit and enveloped myself in their snuggly warmth this winter.

Now then dear, have you got your hat?

and gloves?

Love Wend

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Fringe benefits

In the tradition of well heeled ladies of yesteryear I ventured up to Scotland for the glorious 12th and subsequent season. Unfortunately I forgot my weapon and thwarted, found myself in Edinburgh at the fringe. I've wanted to do this for years and with Niobe performing there for nearly 3 weeks it would have been rude not to go! Niobe is in Alice's Adventures - this is the back of her hoodie for "Flyering" taken as she left 10 days ago with the local youth performing arts group.


I thought I'd share some of the images from the streets ...

The hand on the picture above is the hand of the guy whose shoulder this young lady is standing on to add her posters to the column.

I soon realised that posters weren't on view for long before the next group stuck their posters over the top. (I tried not to think too hard about the tress cut down to produce this paper mountain).

I soon tracked down the flyers for Niobe's show and discovered them on a phone box first (and then all over the royal mile!).(I admit to peeling one from the bottom of the phone box to being home and frame for Niobe for posterity.)

This guy was amazing typing madly away on his flyers with his delightful assistant hanging them on the line...

This girl and her several accomplices drew a large crowd of interested gentlemen ...

for what must have been a very interesting production of Oliver Twist! I did have to admire the ingenuity of some of the performers...

This group of youngsters just looked as if they'd stepped out of a Jack Wills advert until I counted their legs and ears and found there were 12 ears and 6 legs! Close inspection showed they were advertising the Wind in the Willows.

Playing dead seemed a popular way of attracting attention (when it wasn't raining which it did quite a lot). Still it gave me the chance to snap the lovely dress fabric!

Wellies are the footwear of choice by many which I will remember for next time!

The "Clever Courtesans" had clearly been before otherwise Edinburgh is doing a roaring trade in lovely wellies this month!

There were street performances going on all day giving glimpses of the shows - this is a shot of part of Niobe's group. There are about 20 of them and they are having such fun - performing every day, flyering and cooking for each other in a hostel while managing to pull in lots of shows themselves.

Lots of the shows are free or don't cost much and I was surpised at the quality of those I saw particularly "What would Helen Mirren do?". If you get the chance to see this - go!

I love this shot but I'm not sure what was going on there! Part of the pleasure was the sounds and colour all around. Yesterday the sun was out and everyone seemed to be really enjoying themselves. Although this was a first for me it certainly won't be the last time I go. I'm back home now but Niobe has another 10 days still to go! Just look at the faces on the folk below as they watch one of the street performances! Doesn't that say it all!

Love Wend

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Laughed - I nearly wet myself!

So I worked out what this one meant

and was relieved to see this one...

and smiled at this one

but it took me longer than it should have to get this one! I'll leave you think about it. (Seen on the wall inside the ladies)

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Learning to play

A while ago having realised that I didn't play as a child (always prefering a good book) I decided to explore the idea of altered books. This sounds like a contradiction of ideas as it took some time before I could bring myself to deface a book - this has always been a cardinal sin in my book (no pun intended!) I decided that I could only use books that were otherwise to be sent to the tip. First was the book above which I picked up for 10p. I naively thought I might introduce my daughter to some of the delights within but she was having none of it preferring those girlie interests of talking to her friends and listening to music. Hence the cover - how times have changed!

I moved onto "The Children of Dickens" spurred on by the fact that the pages were starting to fall out. I'm no artist but have always loved colour and paper and decided to just do whatever came into my head.

I played about with collage,

cutting windows

Weaving paper

stamping and my first attempt at painting anything since I was about 8!

Getting rid of angst! This was actually quite good fun

Some pages just reflected things I had done- a trip to Rome

Othrs involved just playing with colours and combining things to give what to me were pleasurable combinatons

Some pages were inspired by the book itself - don't you just love the image of the little boy?

And some were "where I was at at the time"!

This one has a famous paragraph from Dickens on the subject of money. My late father was a retired bank manager and the closely writtn page around the paragraph records the movements of the stock market as recorded from CEEFAX hour by hour as he watched the value of his shares rise and fall each day. (This was his form of relaxation - there was never any hope for me!)

Strange but true. I have a book full of pages like this but I can't throw it away!

Other pages I have circled words to make my own sentence out of what is on the page...

And finally a page using marbled paper that Niobe and I made when she was little!

I haven't done anything with this for a couple of years. There are always so many things to do. But it was great to find uses for some of those bits of paper and ephemera that we collect for no reason other than that we like them. Maybe when there is more time I'll practice more and take lessons in subtlety. In the meantime - pass me that box of stamps will you please?