Monday, 29 October 2012

Inspirational Design

I finished my first module and submitted it for marking…..I surprised myself and got 100%.  Woohoo, I’m so happy to actually get something right as was worried my tutor would just send it back laughing with sympathy in his eyes and shaking his head at my dismal attempt to understand the rudiments of space, line, light, texture, balance, emphasis and scale etc. but no, I do understand these concepts a little.  Putting them into practice is a little trickier than understanding in principle.  That part is to come I hope further down the line when I have more of a foundation to stand on.

However, right now I love learning about Interior Design and there is more to it than meets the eye.  More than I originally thought and it takes me ages to finish a module because I don’t understand or know anything at the start but gradually it sinks in and I get the gist. This next module is all to do with the History of Style, Decoration and Architecture.   

I didn’t think about early cave dwellers with their carvings and drawings on cave walls as interior design or Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel come to mention it but this is the question I pose for myself now.  Is it?  I think so.  You know when I started thinking about what I wanted to do to make a transition from my old job to something new, Interior Design was the first thing that really got me excited.  I was a little concerned people might think of it as frippery silly decorating and chucking a few cushions around but it so is not that at all. 

There are some seriously good interior designers out there who have or who are shaping the world we sit in for the good.  It’s not just aesthetics, it’s how we feel, it’s how we live, it’s what we show others and what we don’t show about ourselves, it’s a culmination of historical influences that I expect a lot of people take for granted or don’t see (I didn’t) that guide our taste, it’s aspirational and inspirational and I love it. 

I was squizzing through the internet looking at various influential architects and designers and came across Frank Gehry…blimey has this man got vision.  Considered one of the best architects of our time and designed such places as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles and The Dancing House in Prague to name but a few.
When I first looked at his designs I really didn’t like them but now I see the beauty.  They are spectacular actually and can only marvel at such talent in one man….check out his stuff the thing is he not only concerns himself with the outside but also the inside and essentially obeys the principles and elements of design but with spectacular effect.    I think the same thing (almost) when I look at the inside of a Kit Kemp Hotel (Firmdale Hotels), beautiful spaces and cleverly, imaginatively and boldly designed.  I can hear people shrieking at me now….that I can’t compare THE most influential architect of our times to a hotel owner who designs her own interiors but I am in a way…it’s all design one way or another just different mediums and different materials.  Same as our cave dwelling ancestors who told a story they wanted to convey with the medium of the visual.
Staying with architecture for a moment I wonder what anyone thinks of this year’s RIBA Stirling Prize winner…..The Sainsbury Laboratory designed by Stanton & Williams (go check it out

Beaches and hunger not sated!

You know Devon has a lot of things to offer and two of the best things about this place are the beaches and the moors.  Having been made redundant recently I have zero money, no literally no money bar paying bills.  Hay ho that’s the way life is but where would I be without the beach and the moors to cheer me up?  My man and I were at Bigbury beach this weekend and what a beach this is, really stunning especially in the fading light and the bulk of people have left…just peaceful and calming, with the haunting sound of the oyster catchers and the gorgeous ozone smell.  See what I mean!
In these days of austerity, simple pleasures are there to be found and some of the best are on our coastlines….lucky us who live here.
One blot on an otherwise perfect time…..fancied some chips…you know just a small cone with that salty vinergary tang to warm the cold hands, sate hunger and provide that needed rosy glow of ultimate naughtiness.  Yay…there is a beach cafĂ© at Bigbury and joy of simple joys they sold chips.  Only had about £1.50 on us and thought that would be plenty for a small smattering of chips to gladden the heart….but no….£1.90 for a small portion and this obviously increased for medium and then large.  Hunger hopes dashed and couldn’t believe it was so expensive. 
Word of warning chaps, if you want chips on a beach you have to pay a pricey ransom, so dig deep into those pockets! 

Monday, 22 October 2012


Question….Museums…stuffy boring places or wonderful institutions of visual learning?   For me they are the latter but I guess that depends on the museum and perhaps the person.  Take Plymouth and Exeter museum for example where my daughter Zoe and I recently visited both.  I thought they were the antithesis of each other in terms of visual and intellectual stimulation, flow, exhibits and general pleasure to be in vibe. 

Plymouth, although the outside is quite architecturally impressive being of neo-classical design and the foyer looked ok but inside…yawn, yawn, yawn.  The actual displays are a little tired and boring with very little to visually stimulate.  However there is lots of interaction for little ones which is a plus for parents with bored children but not much for adults to keep you in there for more than 5 minutes and you may find yourself fleeing said place to save from museum narcolepsy!  This museum refers to the stuffy boring variety I think.

Exeter on the other hand is wonderful.  It’s recently been refurbished and modernised, sympathetically I may add and looks great both inside and out in its gorgeous gothic splendour (so it should really as it cost 24 million!).  They added some contemporary elements to join the old with the new and restoration of this Victorian wonder is spot on. They have even painted the foyer and hallways a vibrant pink and it looks fab against the stonework.

This colour combination really works…see nature made it first so it must be ok!
The exhibits are really engaging and there is such variety.  There were a few stand out exhibits but one piece my daughter and I loved was working on the premise of bottled memories and each bottle had a different memory from the artist engraved on the front, like the smell of freshly mown grass or her mother’s perfume.  It was really evocative and such a lovely idea.
We really could have spent most of the day roaming around the rooms looking and oohing and ahhing.  There were of course some silly bits but well it’s a museum and obligatory and  for the kids I think… a whole elephant, polar bear and a tiger…dead of course…now that would be fun and stimulating if there was a live tiger roaming around the place, get the customers moving along nicely!  The bit that’s great is it’s free.  Not much free in this world that’s really worth a look at.  Well that’s not true actually as nature is free and almost always worth a look at, perhaps it’s more a case of not much in this world that costs money that’s worth a look at!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Fat Boy Slim

Well well well….just taken our two gorgeous Jack Russell’s to the vet for their yearly MOT.  As part of the check up the vet wanted to weigh the boys, however when she weighed Taffarini she proclaimed he could do with losing a little weight….the cheek of it!  We do call him Fat Boy but that’s just an affectionate term for such a slim and beautiful boy, surely. 
That’s Taffarini (AKA Fat Boy or Taffy) on left and Mojo on the right (yes the one with the enormous ears…..hay we think he’s beautiful). So diet it is then. 
Now, before diet the day normally went as follows: get up feed boys, they don’t eat their breakfast as they wait for us to have our coffee and toast as this means they get some yummy toast.  Then they eat their own breakfast if they can be bothered.  Play with toys and generally run around barking and disturbing my husband as he tries to work and have conference calls about some very important computer jiggery pokery stuff.  Then lunchtime there maybe a little titbit of this or that…only something small I’m sure, then apple cores if there’s any going, then perhaps a Smackeroo (oh how they love Smackeroo’s) then hearty walk on moors….boys gotta be hungry now…then their dinner, which they may take a look at (yucky hard boring dry food) then it’s our dinner and boy there may be something that accidently fell into their mouths under the table.  Then more playing and perhaps a sniff at their dinner lying in their bowls and polish it off in a most languid fashion.
On reflection maybe it might have been a little too much extra stuff??!! 
Now, day goes like this: get up feed boys, Taffy runs around very excited and acts like he has never been fed, both gobble food up and look expectantly for more (there is no more).  We have our breakfast; coffee and toast, boys look hungrily at us with pleading eyes…nay implores us with those eyes for a little bit of toast…a crumb even, but no.  Then nothing other than playing with toys and amusing themselves till walk…yay walk, they rush around and get very very excited.  Then their dinner, yucky hard boring dry food but oh it’s so delicious now, they eat all up in 2 seconds flat, more is the cry but no.  Then more lounging around and barking at the television if a dog or animal comes on the screen, playing with toys but no more food.  Taffy’s stomach thinks his throat has been cut and is thoroughly bored of this no treats malarkey.  Much teasing of Fat Boy that he is now so skinny we see his ribs and is all skin and bone….poor little Fat Boy wasting away.  Ah the amusement of our beloved dogs, where would we be without them and my sabbatical is made even more enjoyable now I can spend so much time with them.  Silver linings everywhere to redundancy.