Legal: Website Terms of Use
   GUESTBOOK: Sign ~ View 
  This diary has opened in a separate window ~ just close it when you finished with this page.         




Wishing clients past & present & visitors alike, a very belated Happy New Year.

So, it's February, what happened to January I hear you ask?

As though a wonderful new boyfriend wasn’t explanation enough?

Well this January I was too busy living it & enjoying it, to write about it but in summary (summaries normally being short but even now I know it won’t be)…..


31 December 2006 / 1 January 2007~


January started off on a high. Took BBB (birthday boy boyfriend) to Wembley Arena for Kylie’s New Years Eve Concert & to see in our first new year & his birthday.


F.B.? Fabulous! Great, GREAT costumes, an amazing set, fab dancers & for all the gay guys (& there were plenty) & straight girls who like men clad in very little else but feathers – male dancers in tiny pants, boots & Icarus styley wings (well I may be taken but I am neither blind nor dead). A most unusual rendition of The Locomotion, which I’d rather not have heard but a fetish style version, executed like a scene from Cabaret or the video from Madonna's 'Justify My Love' video, did make it a darn site more entertaining) & if you hadn’t have known she’d been so ill, you’d never have guessed judging by her performance but you could see the smoke and mirrors in place to take the strain off of her because she’s not able to work as she had before, that’s she’s still recovering;

The costumes suggested flesh but were all very covered up, they were cut to promote curves and a couple really reminded me of Mae West, the heels had got more sturdy & once were ditched for bare feet, when you looked on the big screens you could see the head-dresses were held on by big hair clips; I noticed because illusion is what I do & I can spot it & it saddened me to see that her illness has had that effect on her, that you can see it’s physical effect on her wardrobe for the Homecoming tour. Video images of her posing in Dior & other stunning designer outfits flashed up on the back wall, really great dancers, rising podiums, superb dance routines, all served to deflect us from noticing that Kylie was doing less & who cared? We were just glad she was there at all & taking our hats off to her that she was taking to the stage so soon. Anyway to conclude, the lighting, the sound, Kylie - having been there, I can’t think of anywhere I’d have rather been & hello, booze? Baring in mind, the last concert I saw was in the 80’s (Michael Jackson, Bad Tour), boozing inside the arena came as somewhat of a surprise & who knew how attached a girl could get to little plastic bottles of Sminoff Ice  ;)

The vibe in the Arena was great & a crowd of very chilled & happy people walked en masse back to the tube that night. We were camping out at The Landmark for the night (over the top, bordering on simpering service, bathroom the size of a ballroom but crap air con), it was all in all a great (no, used that), fab (no, used that), thesaurus is offering me “amazing” & I’m taking it - an amazing New Years Eve 2006.


The Landmark proves an interesting place to check out of on January 1st. We were put in an overspill room for breakfast, so presumably they could get their costly, special lunchtime buffet set up and the staff were less than thrilled to be working New Years Day (one can imagine the stay sober speech). We had to practically beg for tea (well in a 5 star asking for anything 3 times in my book equates to begging), as did we for my tomato sauce (3 times), had to ask for glasses for the juice, no one once said good morning or wished us a Happy New Year & we weren’t hung over so we did want to tuck into breakfast with sauce, drink tea & generally enjoy the joyous atmosphere of a hotel embracing January the 1st (well maybe some accommodation providers offered joy, but they were probably family run B&Bs somewhere).


The hotel sent a customer satisfaction email through, inviting my thoughts & I gave them a truthful evaluation & I think it’s so great when they email back to apologise and thank you for taking the time to give them such honest & useful feedback……….. so if anyone’s ever experienced such an event, consider yourself very lucky and the event rare indeed! In other words, I've heard nothing.


Ha! Told you it would be long.


21-26 January 2007 ~

Venice – Lovely, Romantic, Cold (it even snowed) Venice.

As a joint birthday thing, Venice was our shared birthday present (well, that was the plan but there was Kylie bracketing January at one end & an evening in theatreland bracketing the other end).


I have a man who loves to bimble about & people watch. Who likes a good bit of architecture, awe inspiring scenes and, as it turns out, is equally at home in my favourite hotel, the Bauer which is opposite my favourite view of the Santa Maria church on the Grand Canal.


We had a wonderful best part of a week, we did a Vivaldi concert & did a tour of the clock tower in St Marks Sq and may I observe, if my recollection is correct, did James Bond not crash through said cloak tower in Venice in one of those movies (Roger Moore JB)? Cos, if so, having seen how it looks on the inside, that could sooo not happen! Anyhoo, back to my sightseeing list, neither of the above in my past 7 visits have I ever done. We did Florians for tea, the Danielli for drinks, got lost in the residential back streets and were diverted by pretty balconies, outside staircases, looking up into the windows of grand houses with opulent ceilings & the prerequisite Murano glass chandeliers. We spent an hour at the top of the Basillica watching Italian teenaged school boys playing imaginary ping pong (ooh the confidence, the arrogance, the egos!) to both impress the gaggle of Italian school girls and to torture a female Japanese tourist who stood there while this jumped up ***** darted back & forth in front of her, waving an imaginary bat in her face! It’s a shame we had no loose pebbles kicking around by our feet, because we both agreed, we had a fare chance of clocking that pair on their noggins & giving the rest of us a break. The teachers, we assume, were somewhere else, smoking / smooching / topping up their caffeine levels but certainly nowhere to be seen for the hour these kids sat below us on the walkways left out for the Aqua Alta (flooding at high tides). Whilst up there we also honed our ability to spot Americans, the English, sometimes Germans & Italians. It’s hard to put your finger on how you spot people from different countries but it didn’t escape our notice that we didn’t need to utter a word for people to know we were English. Italian women can normally be spotted for wearing impractically high shoes & real fur. Venetian women of a certain age, 50+, adopt a uniform: ¾ length brown fur coat, tights or neat trousers poking out the bottom, sensible brown, navy or black court shoes, backcombed & set with superglue hair, with or without the additition of a Russian style fur hat (which makes them look about as Russian as I do right now (current status: in bed with laptop, black jersey PJ bottoms, nightshirt, red dressing gown – it’s cold, Venice gave me a cold & our cottage is suffering from a case of ‘packed up boiler’ which after reporting to the useless estate agent who supposedly manages the property, who doesn’t see our no heat / no hot water plight as anything that requires action on his part, the cottage owners will be fitting a new boiler tomorrow. Point being, I don’t look Russian right now, the hat doesn’t make them look Russian & neither of our looks could be described as stylish)).


I took to merely referring to them as ‘uniforms’ & also observed that groups of them (the male version is: smart clothing, long wool coat, a Trilby hat) when tackling a bridge or small alley or the in-orderly queue for the water buses are rather like the Venetian equivalent of ‘hoodies’. For though Venice is, in my opinion, the most fabulous city on the planet, your born & bred, older Venetian women like nothing more than to display bullish, aggressive behaviour towards the hated tourists and both barge us, sneer at us & queue jump whenever and where ever possible to get one over on us. Walking down one alley, we came upon a female ‘uniform’ who, issuing us with a withering look & using her hand, gestured a sharp flipping back and forth action to indicate we should jump aside and let her past (& you know what, no one needed to do anything to pass each other). It was just Venetian ‘furcoatie’ attitude, for attitude’s sake. I joked we should have done something to really upset her, like my pinning my love to the wall, snogging his face off whilst indulging in inappropriate touching. Whaaa t? She says with a micheivious twinkle in her eye, we would have been moving aside for her! It’s a shame one never thinks of the appropriate reaction at the time. Similarly a rush of uniforms did ferociously barge us tourists aside as they took a bridge on mass and I tell you now, you may be the first body, at the front of the queue on the floating bus platforms but after the locals have pushed through to wait on the ‘no waiting’ chevrons and a couple of old ladies have manoeuvred themselves and their wheelie baskets in front of you, at best you’ll be 10th on to the boat. I took to stepping right back, to take the one upmanship out of it – hey it’s no fun if the girl you’re trying to beat on to the boat, steps back and makes a very big, obvious gesture to usher you ahead of her ;)  There may also have been a smirk & the use of a raised eyebrow (well I didn’t say Venice was the only place bitches resided and besides, one has to get into the spirit!).



From left to right: The view from our table at breakfast,

Is it Art? A culture overload? Inspiration? Dirty dishes? Or did we have too much time on our hands?

St Marks Square at dusk.


Don’t get me wrong, despite trying really hard, an elitist, snobbish, Venetian, one of the more recent in generations of Venetian citizens, will never spoil the tourist’s experience of Venice. I just wish that they would wake up & see the disintegrating palazzos bordering the Grand Canal, the amount of Commune de Venezia boards posted outside buildings covered in scaffolding, awaiting restoration, the crass Rolex corporate sponsorship board in St Marks Sq that is paying for the restoration of the facades, the Bulgari board paying for the restoration of the golden staircase in the Doges Palace & realise that without the tourists and the money they bring, Venice could not survive. For there is little doubt that Venice is one of the most special and unique places in the world but Venetian people are no better than you or I.


Anyway, I prefer not to think of myself as a tourist, I’m not a tourist when I hop on the train to London & I know Venice every bit as well. She’s my home from home, the place I go to recharge & I’m so very lucky that my love, is as taken with her as I am. We returned on the Friday, not nearly ready to leave but brought a gorgeous feather, in the form of a vintage opalescent glass chandelier, back for our nest.



Oooh - things I forgot & are worth sharing:


A joke I cracked: On Sky news whilst we were away they were talking about an African girl that was married at 12 & I retorted that it was totally impractical to expect any woman to be ready & married before at least 2....! Well I thought it was good.


My shopping experience akin to most brides’ dress shop experience:


After having a latte in one of the squares we drifted (well given there was a glass sideboard blocking the door, we sort of sidled carefully) into this quirky clothes shop, which sold outlandish jackets mainly, displayed on mannequins with female bodies but Venetian Doge’s heads. The other, better items, seem more for display. There were corsets on the wall with what looked like innards made of rubber tubing, etc., corsets covered in faux tomatoes, artworks that were so bad taste they were great, cushions with raised 3D buttocks & hung on the walls some rather lovely, shoulder capes that looked like a Matador cape made of pieces of velvet sewn together like a web with hand painting & long fringing. They were lovely, we both clocked them but there were no prices. After we had been shadowed by an odd woman in a velvet hat & long coat for a few minutes, the owner came over & announced she was closing. I asked how much the cape was & was told “oh it’s not for sale”. Seconds later, I was told it was 2000 euros (she sooo pulled that out of her backside!). So, without flinching at the price she'd just quoted I stated, faining confusion, “but it’s not for sale”. To which she replied 'well, yes it is' & brusquely added, “do you want to buy it?”. “Er.., no. Not right now”. It was so on the tip of my tongue to say NO! You’ve all but told me I can’t afford it, so any urge to buy has deserted me! She then started telling me how it was hand made, very time consuming, in a slightly last minute attempt to jump on the selling band wagon & doh! Preaching to the choir!* On my way out she admired my bag, which I had spent quite a large sum of money on in Venice last year & I think it was then that it dawned on her that, actually, I may have been able to afford it. When we escaped I commented to my other half on the similarities between what had just occurred & what so many brides tell me about bridal shop ladies, looking down their noses at ensembles that consist of jeans & trainers worn by girls out for a Saturday mooch around the shops, and that they go out of their way to imply the most expensive dresses are clearly, often wrongly, out of someone’s price range. Maybe the lady who owns this shop, should pop down to the 5 Star Bauer & see what the guests there are wearing down to breakfast & to walk Venice. Tourists are similar to brides out shopping for dresses on Saturday afternoon, the casual clothes don’t tell you a thing. She also happened to be terribly overpriced. 2000 euros is about £1300 right now & I would have priced something like this cape at around £600 & I suspect she did double the cost. Sadly, I think the price quoted was to impress upon an impoverished me that it was totally out of my budget in an arrogant, I can’t bare you dreadful tourists, you can’t afford me, way! And so she could crow about how talented she was, which, err sorry, doesn’t wash with me! Designers with over inflated egos are a pet peeve.


I recounted this story in a mask shop a couple of days later, to someone who in fact knows her. Apparently she’s “not a seller” – no shit! She’s a stylist. I hope the story & the fact that I also discussed what I do & charge for my work with this colleague of hers, gets back to her. The lady in the other shop said Italians make very bad sellers because they judge too much on appearance & of course not all nations dress with such vanity or put so higher price on appearance – some of us dress down as much as we dress up & judging books by their covers looses this Venetian stylist (who’s sign on her shop door said something along the lines of we open when feel like it) & middle aged, British bridal boutique owners, sales everyday.


* "Preaching To The Choir " (trying to make believers out of people who already believe... )



Do they know it's not Chritmas time?


Christmas decs still up in the streets but not all lit, so not a decoration choice for the year ahead then? Just draaaaging your heels? St Marks Square, the most famous in Venice was still decorated but not lit - still up on January 25th (hey, if you can't be bothered to take them down, at least light them you stingey buggers!). Though to be fair, on the 25th, 2 men with the aid of a ladder did begin to take them down. 




Em, haven't you heard of twelth night? I know our towns never get the stuff down in time for twelth night but they do get them down soon after. And we saw at least two Chrismas trees in the public spaces. And the shop's windows still have tinsel & sprayed on snowflakes & are still selling Murano glass Christmas toot at full price with no sign of window revamps in sight.





31 January 2007~

My 34th Birthday.

The 31st brought me cards, the main theme of which involved shoes (these people know me too well. And upon writing that, it occurs to me, as friends and family, if anyone would……). My love took me to see ‘Wicked’ at the Apollo Theatre in Victoria, took me to dinner & gave me a pair of ‘Racing Grannys’ which I have been trying to justify buying every time I’ve been in Paperchase (well those or the racing nuns), so yay, now I have some. We had agreed, no presents, Venice was our joint present & both broke the agreement.


The day after we fine tuned our grannys by angling their arms so their walkers were at the optimum racing angle and then as the racing hit fever pitch, we took it a step further and pimped up our granny’s by adding ballast in the form of blue tack to get granny more balanced & ‘race trudging’ forward rather than veering to one side. I am ashamed to report that in a perfectly innocent attempt to straighten the wheel on my love’s granny’s walker, that I did inadvertently nobble her by accidentally snapping it off! So out came the blue tack again……


Wicked is a great show. A clever story, the Wicked Witch of the West, Elpheba, has a superb, clear as a bell singing voice and again great costumes, set, you name it. A birthday treat.


So now you know why January’s diary remained empty. January was great. It would have been better if the boiler worked & hopefully tomorrow it will but a little reality never hurt anyone and even with the cold & sporadic availability of hot water…. domestic bliss has remained, on the whole, bliss.


1 February 2007 ~


Log on, donate to charity & create your mini-masterpiece.

My eye has made it into the official 2007 calander: (June, bottom row, 2nd in from the left).

2 February 2007 ~




Kirsten's Diary - the Wedding, Take Two.


Happy New year to all.


I cannot believe it is 2007 already!  It is amazing how, having started organizing things in June, and “next” August seeming endlessly far away, we are now only 7 months away!  All the things I was going to have done by now just haven’t happened.  “Bridesmaids” dresses are still a mystery to me as I am really unsure what colours to put them in when I am in navy blue and gold, the invitations are still not finished and we are having a quandary over what gifts to exchange during our vows, my husband doesn’t want another ring.  I have finally calmed down over my dress though.  Having met with Chantal in November, she drew some new designs and eased my mind over the many options and variations.  I am now happy to wait until nearer the time before considering any further changes or making any firm decisions about which one to go for. 


Homemade invitations - Oh what a great idea that was!  When we got married, we were truly broke and so I bought some amazing handmade paper and matching envelopes and we printed out all our stationary.  Sum total was about £50 for everything which having seen some of the prices of invitations etc was really a good deal.  Having decided to get it absolutely right this time, we looked at various options for the invitations.  I really wanted scrolls but looking online and at various suppliers, there are very limited options.  I have received so many wedding invitations that really are nothing special or have fallen apart in the mail and yet you know that they probably cost a fortune.  This time I have done a bit of a combination of homemade ideas and some excellent suppliers.  I sourced some excellent navy blue scroll boxes which has our initials engraved on the top.  I also ordered a wax seal with our initials engraved so we can seal the invitations with ribbon to match our theme.  The end result will be fantastic but it takes such a long time.  I originally was going to “age” some nice paper and print out the scrolls myself but in the end the practicalities of that meant that I have actually ordered some pre-printed medieval style scrolls which we will then put in the boxes.  For anyone considering making invitations who is interested I have attached a list of suppliers that I have used for this undertaking.  It is very taste specific but someone might have similar tastes to me!


Although we are unsure what my husband will receive, he is quite keen on adding some engraving to his wedding ring, he is going to give me a new ring which I will wear on my right hand.  My wedding ring and engagement ring are quite wide and I cannot wear an eternity ring so this is definitely a great option.  The probable choice is actually a wedding ring that is engraved with whatever date you want in roman numerals.  We are getting it made in matt gold and my husband may have a matching chain with the matching date engraved.  I am very excited about it as it something we considered when we got married and I think the rings are absolutely fabulous!!! 


I am becoming more conscious of our budget now we are getting closer and saving hard.  We always make the mistake of planning, booking and organizing what we want and figuring out costs later.  We never set a budget for any of it and just want what we want!  Not the best way of organizing any kind of event but I think we are back in control.  As a result, and having decided we wouldn’t get a cake, we have now booked a cake for the occasion.  As a really important part of a wedding, we were not sure how relevant it would be to a renewal of vows but having moved away from any kind of wedding cake image, we are getting a cake of the Coliseum in Rome.  As somewhere that is really special to us and a place that my husband took me to as a surprise for my birthday the year after we were married, it seemed really appropriate.  One thing we definitely are going to have is a photographer and we have booked one based in Dumfries.  I am really looking forward to seeing the results as we have booked the “Wedding Book” which is a hard bound album with varying style options available.  We didn’t want another traditional wedding album and this seems like a great idea.  I will let you know what it is like.


So as work and time take over, I spend weekends trawling the web and getting organized, or at least trying to.  My next big task is to figure out the dresses for my ‘bridesmaids’ to wear and any suggestions that would suit both a six foot tall, slim and a 5’1 tiny, petite girl would be gratefully received.  Not to mention fabrics or colours!!  I am very fussy and cannot figure it out yet.  I am also looking forward to getting my wrist cuff and flowers from Chantal in the next couple of months which is really exciting.  And then it’s hunting for some fab, black designer shoes.  The joy of a Navy dress means that black shoes are in and the choice is great.  London stores here I come……


Suppliers I have used so far (most of whom I recommend!)



Comlongon Castle –



Medieval Scribe – (medieval style invitations and scrolls)

Sue’s workshop – (favours, scrolls/boxes and accessories)

The Celtic shop – (Celtic gifts – we got a personalized wax seal)



Rainbow Sugarcraft –



GraphiStudio – ( who design and produce the wedding books)



Dominic Walmsley – (Check out the Year Ring!)



Wedding Met: early February tally 18.
No move since early December. It appears world domination has ground to a halt.

4 February 2007 ~
I took a picture of one of boys all framed up for the diary today (following on from December).
In the end, even though Paperchase had this pink, I liked the shape of the blue ones better & ended up spraying blue ones pink (ever the perfectionist). I left some of the blue to give depth & all three of my boys look great in their frames.

2007: Entries for JANUARY / FEBRUARY  .  MARCH   .  APRIL / MAY   .  JUNE / JULY