Friday, 28 August 2009

bye for now!

I will be jetting off to New York followed by the US Virgin Islands on Monday. I'm terribly excited not only because I haven't been to NY in ten years, or because I can't wait to be hit by a hurricane in the Caribbean (!), but mostly because holidays are the PERFECT way of indulging my list-making habit. I love making lists, loads of them, all overlapping in content and intent, and scattered around the house such that not ONE of them is any use, but all together they are a beautiful summary of my life.

I'm not really as cynical about holidays as the picture below suggests, but I really miss eating enough fruit and vegetables when I'm on holiday - there's never quite enough!

I will be taking not just one, but two cameras with me, and my sketchbook. But chances are that I won't take any good photos, nor draw a single thing whilst I'm away. I look forward to returning here again the week commencing 14th September. Until then, keep safe and see you soon! x

Thursday, 27 August 2009

oh deary me

I know, I know, I said I'd not write about clocks again but this time I had to. So, what do you think of this one? Well, I don't really care too much what you think, because yesterday my hand, uh, slipped on eBay and I ended up as the winning bidder. Oop! It's from the US so it needs re-wiring to work here but I don't care! It's a good 14.5 inches across, but not too big for our little house. I think I'll leave the enormous 60cm ones for when we get a mansion with high ceilings.

Ever since the clock debacle, I've kept half an eye out looking for a nice vintage wall clock that wasn't too small, nor £200. I already own a cute 1970s Metamec clock from H is for Home, but it's only 20cm across - perfect for my studio, but not nearly beastly big enough to satisfy my current urge.

So I have been watching vintage Smiths Sectric clocks come and go on eBay, some much nicer than others and for decent prices. But this one turned up and it's just that little bit different from owning a Smiths - I don't like to run with the crowd after all. The first one below was 11.5 inches, in good working order and very clean - sold for £82. The second was the same size, not working - sold for £42. I wasn't taken with either enough to buy them.

So what's the big deal about my clock? Pretty red second hand and little red button; curved glass face, perfect patina on the dial (some Smiths clocks are just too clean); sweet little dots to mark the minutes: what's not to love? Fully three inches wider too, and size is everything in this case. And the price? Well, that would be telling, but it was good for me :-)

Whilst I'm indulging myself, I have also coveted one of these telephones for years. It was the exact same model that used to sit in my parents' takeaway when I was little. How sad that we don't have such wonderful dialling mechanisms nowadays? It all has to be touch-tone to enable our interaction with soulless machines on the other end. Someone buy me this to take up too much space on my desk, pretty please? It's a snip at £35!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

another random drawing

I've just added a link on the 'also find me at:' section on the right. It is a link to one of my other blogs called (in my typical ladylike fashion) This is where I write crap. I have been writing this for a little while and it's the place where I write stuff that doesn't really belong here, where mostly (with some lapses!) I blog about things that are related to my work and other design-y junk. This other blog is where I indulge myself more personally - food (a LOT about food), memories, Chinese cultural stuff, random, ranty soapbox moments. But don't judge me by it! I am not as grumpy nor as neurotic as I appear on it. I just thought maybe some of you might be mildly diverted by it. Today's post was mainly about Vietnamese sandwiches and congee. Yesterday was about a curious thing called pickled tofu. It's like that, I'm afraid.

As you will gather from the most recent post, I'm off on holiday next week for ten days. So, a couple more bits and bobs here this week, then I'll be off to NY and beyond! Whoop!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

not much to say for myself today

My badges arrived today! They are very lovely. I think I will send the husband to work wearing a different one each day this week. They will be for sale in sets of four some time in the distant future when I have the time to set up shop :-)

Monday, 24 August 2009

the weekend...

... was mixed. We went to a lovely house party on Friday night, drank FAR too many cocktails, went to bed at 5.15am and woke up still drunk four hours later. We couldn't drive home until nearly 3pm, at which point my hangover started and lasted until Sunday, I swear. I was still breathing alcohol fumes yesterday, or that's how it felt. So Saturday was a bit of a non-day. Yesterday, whilst still feeling iffy, we went to Newmarket Racecourse to an antiques fair. It was marvellous fun.

Since it was our anniversary, Mark bought me a beautiful vintage Sussex trug with a lovely aged patina - much nicer than new ones, which can also cost a lot of money. We took it straight home and into the garden, where we had rather too many vegetables to pick. The courgette situation is getting out of hand. I look away for two days and there are five more, all massively overgrown.

Friday, 21 August 2009

stuff and nonsense

Still have lots of courgettes... running out of ideas. I think there are more in the garden to cut today, but I hardly dare to look. There they will be, a pair of them or more, smiling up at me in challenge. I think Nigella Lawson has a recipe for a courgette cake... let me find it... here. Worth a try, I think.

This weekend is our first wedding anniversary! I can't quite believe it. We are doing nothing. Absolutely NOTHING. Which right now seems to be the most luxurious thing in the world. Well, I lie - we are going to a friend's party in London tonight to drink a bucketful of cocktails, then we will pass out drunk, stay overnight and return home the next day to do nothing. Well, I lie again. We are going to an antiques fair on Sunday. I'll post up anything good that I find.

It was nice to see that I appeared on Share Some Candy last month. Thanks!

Have a good weekend, kids.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

you look away for a minute...

well, for a week, let's say, and you end up with this:

I had EIGHT of those bastard giant courgettes (thankfully two have been given away and we ate an enormous one last night). And the giant vat of tomatoes? Panzanella for lunch today. That's what you get for spending too much time working and not enough time pootling about in the garden. The pumpkin plant has turned into some kind of gargantuan triffid, our runner bean frame has collapsed under the weight of its load, and I have a pile of potatoes to unearth this weekend. Garlic too. The weather has been marvellous again for the last few days, although spending most of them enduring bum-and-thigh-sweat in London hasn't been the best way of enjoying it. The heat in London yesterday made the streets smell like Hong Kong, stuffy with the odour of drains and rotting vegetables.

I am glad to be home again, and my laptop is working. I have lost some data from my old hard drive but hopefully I'll get it back soon, and I'm spending the day trying to reinstall my old software. Almost there! Then things will get back to normal. If only I could get this damned scanner driver installed and working. Grr!

So yeah, it's been a tough week (tough job - I ended up weeping like a baby in front of my agents on Friday, which was very unseemly) - one of the longest of my life, or that's how it feels at least! I'll be back with something fun tomorrow. Thanks for reading! I missed being here.

Friday, 14 August 2009

bruised and battered

Like I said the other day, when it rains, it pours. I've had an exhausting week with deadlines coming out of my ears. Hopefully it will abate for the weekend after I've finished this last job today. It'll all start again on Monday, no doubt, but we are heading up to Yorkshire this weekend.

Imagine this: I start work at 7am on Wednesday morning. I work through the day with barely a break from the computer. My computer gets hot - it always complains when I give it a whipping, probably because it's old and tired and doesn't like me any more for making it work so hard for four years. Later, I've worked all day on a bunch of images and am just about to upload them at 10.30pm, ready for a deadline first thing the next morning. I have scanned in all my drawings for the next bunch of images, deadline midday the next day. Then, just as I'm saving the last file, my computer starts to make a weird noise. Not the usual fuck-off-I'm-too-hot-give-me-a-bloody-break fan whirring, but a croaky little rumble. Oh no. Then I get the wheel of death in cheery rainbow colours (I mean for GOD'S sake, Apple, that bastard wheel appears like someone announcing that they have cancer whilst dressed up as a kitten). And then nothing. Nothing works. So after a while I turn it off by pressing the power button. I leave it to cool. Then will it start up again? Heck no. It's not playing ball, it's not bothered, it's gone on a bloody sabbatical. Cue MASSIVE, hand-shaking panic, phone-calls to my lovely agent Charlie at midnight, trying to start up in safe mode etc. etc. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I went into London at the crack of dawn on Thursday after four hours of barely sleeping to try and retrieve the files at my agent's studio, with the help of their computer people. Thankfully we got the files off and I worked my arse off to meet the last deadline, but my hard drive is fried and needs to be replaced, so I'm computerless until the end of next week.

So forgive me if posting is sporadic for a while. My poor old machine is in hospital having its vital organs rearranged. Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

when it rains, it pours

I'm half asleep here at 6.50 in the morning and about to start work for the day... I hate how I always want more work, but when it comes in I resent having to do it :-) I'm so lazy sometimes. Back maybe tomorrow with something more entertaining than this. Today I am fending off a deadline, fighting illustrative fires.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Tombées du Camion, Paris

Image from

I am quite tortured sometimes. Not by my work right now, but by my yearnings for various things. It makes me feel materialistic, greedy, fickle; and I hate materialism. But I like stuff: blue and white china, vintage tins and little boxes, scary-looking old toys that don't really work, chemists' bottles, bowls, jugs, chairs, woollen blankets, stripy bedlinen, more shoes, glass domes, vintage clocks... the list goes on. My house is not big enough for all the stuff I would like to fill it with.

I end up buying nothing, even if we walk into a shop full of the most gorgeous things. We went into one such place in Southwold last weekend. I picked up lovely old linens, a pretty ointment tin, a vintage sign - but did I buy any of them? Not I! I never do - I don't want a cluttered house and I hate wasting money on things I don't need. But I just get this nagging feeling sometimes when I wave goodbye to whatever has caught my eye that maybe I'm going to spend my whole life being thrifty and denying my whims and end up a bitter old hag with an empty house and nothing around me that I really like. Maybe if I just tossed those horrid chairs into the tip and forced myself to find ones I really did like, my life would somehow be fuller and much more charming. I would sit my guests on my lovely new (old) chairs without wincing at the sight of them! B****cks?!? I can't decide.

All this brings me to the point of this post. When we were in Paris in March this year, I came across the most amazing shop near Montmartre. It was freezing cold and I'd been outdoors all day - I was walking alone around Paris, getting to know the city above ground, marching between arrondissements with an explorer's fervour. So I was striding down Rue Joseph de Maistre towards the hilltop of Montmartre in order to see the city spread below in the spring sunshine when I passed the most curious shop display. I was instantly drawn to it when I spotted a crate of old chemists' glassware on its doorstep. I peeked in through the door and at first thought it was some kind of weird doll boutique or a goth-like jewellery store, but I went in despite myself.

Words cannot describe this place. It is at turns magical, creepy, dark, beautiful, both bright and sombre - it is a tiny shop crammed with weird vintage dolls' heads, 1970s masks, wooden toys, vintage ephemera and cards of buttons. There are weird things to make jewellery from, vintage sewing spools, little tins and paper fish. It is delightful, curious and quite bewitching. I could have spent hours in there (drooling a little), only it's so small that they would probably think I was mad. The shop is called Tombées du Camion, at no. 17 Rue Joseph de Maistre - check out their beautiful website here, where you can order stuff via e-mail. I wanted to buy the most lovely little wooden pull-along toy from the 1940s for €28 which was shaped like a little bird, with most of the paint worn off. They had at least a dozen of them ferretted away underneath another display. I didn't buy one and my heart aches a little bit for them now.

There is a set of photographs here on Flickr (where some of the images above are taken from - the others are from their official site).

Oh yeah, and if you happen to be in that area and want some great salad, head for Le Relais Gascon (surprisingly for Montmartre, this place is full of Parisians, not tourists), just down the road from here. You get the most enormous bowls of salad there topped with to-die-for fried potato slices smothered in garlic and parsley. The fact that you end up stinking of garlic for the whole night (garlic always repeats on me and wakes me up :-)!) is NOT a valid reason for not eating there. But don't bother with anything but the salad.

I've been away in London today seeing friends, and have just this evening been called away to London again tomorrow to work on a little job that I haven't (yet) got a clue about :-) Whoop! So I'll be back hopefully on Wednesday.

Friday, 7 August 2009

another one, then I'm off to vegetate for the weekend

Thanks for your comments! In response to Kim's suggestion, I've done a bigger moon to see what it looks like. Better? I have no idea!

a wedding

Based on this idea I had a few weeks ago, I drew this to put on a card for my neighbours. They are getting married at beautiful Audley End House tomorrow. I don't think they read this blog, so I'm probably OK to put up the image here. Does anyone have an opinion - which one do you prefer? Top (original watercolour piece), middle, or bottom (messing around in Photoshop)?

The weather looks like it might be nice this weekend, so maybe we'll go somewhere fun again. Maybe not. Have a good one!

Thursday, 6 August 2009

messing around

So it looks like I finally might be getting the go-ahead for this animation job that I've been waiting on nearly all summer. Fingers crossed. And the other new and exciting animation job I mentioned the other day may yet be mine - still waiting to hear. I've got my fingers twisted round themselves until the tendons creak!

I feel like I've been wasting a lot of time this summer - I find it very hard to focus on one thing. I have started but not finished the new site for Alternative Eagle design studio, I am designing mailouts to send to clients but am procrastinating about the format that these will take. At the moment I'm thinking of just sending a jointed paper puppet, printed on the back with my details. I wonder if that's going to be too brief or too gimmicky. But I am quite gimmicky and silly so maybe it would be suitably frivolous of me to send a toy. I'm not sure if it's good enough yet, though. I keep going round in circles punishing myself.

But anyhoo I've been messing around in my sketchbook trying out a few things. I've been enjoying playing with watercolours again, only they pucker up my pages so much that scanning is a proper pain in the arse. Here are some of the weird and pointless things I came up with yesterday:

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


I have a weakness for chairs. We have a set of dining chairs handed down very charitably from Mark's grandmother, but they have been coated in a heavy-handed, grim teak varnish and have bulbous carvings on their legs. I hate them, but can't bring myself to replace them yet - it seems ungrateful not to keep them, and reckless to buy things we don't really need. But to soothe my eyes I did get a lovely pair of old chapel chairs from a shop in Cambridge a bit like the one pictured above. Similar ones can be found at Church Antiques. I like the little shelf on the back that would have held prayer or hymn books. I don't care at all to have a matching set of chairs - I like the eclectic look of several different styles grouped around a table, and hopefully these two will be the start of my collection.

I have fallen head over heels for this set of walnut Thonet chairs from Pigeon Vintage. However, their rarity and simple beauty gives them a price tag of £850 for a set of four. Ouuuuuuch! Dang. If only Grandma had possessed a set of these instead.

sketchbooks and the weekend

Can you imagine how overjoyed I was this morning to receive a big package containing ten sketchbooks and a paintbrush? I bet your imagination can only glimpse my gleeful capering. Yeah, I'm that sad - I even sniffed the things like a drug. I feel like they are going to save me somehow...

I am determined to cheer up this week and write about jolly things. I had a good weekend. The husband and I went for a cheesy English day out at the seaside in Southwold. Luckily we escaped the rain all day because we were on the east coast and it was pissing it down everywhere but. It was marvellous fun. We ate fish and chips and played in the sand. The light was curious that day, and the sky was immense.