Thursday, 31 March 2011

quality portraits!

                                            absolute quality

three men and a baby... my absolute favorite

while i am in the process of writing the final post about "location location location" and working on some new jewelry, i thought i would post some "quality portraits".

a few years ago, scott and i were in bexhill ( which is the next town up the coast from us in hastings) and we saw this sweet little old theater. it didn't look like it was in use and the bottom windows were covered with loads of bad drawings of celebrities. they were fantastic! so bad they were good. we couldn't figure out who some of them were and we also couldn't figure out what they were doing there. was it some kind of teenage art class? was some crazy old lady knocking em' back and knocking em' out? the fact they were called "quality portraits" made it even better. we were mesmerized. whenever we went to bexhill, we'd head straight to that theater window.

christmas wasn't far away and i had been thinking for a while that i wanted to surprise scott with a "quality portrait" of our family ( which at that time was only at the magic number of 3 members). i very excitedly took the train to bexhill planning to see if there was a contact number or knock on the door, but i was devastated when instead of the beautiful bad art i expected to see, i found clear windows and a boring new shop in their place. i could feel a knife in my heart. i asked one of the people working there what had happened to all the pictures and he said they had been THROWN OUT! the knife twisted. i felt a real loss. much like how restaurants in LA display photographs of the stars or how the brown derby in hollywood had all the the celebrity caricatures on the walls, i would have loved to have an ENTIRE WALL of "quality portraits". now... that dream was dead.

at that time, i couldn't remember what the name of the business/ maker of the pictures was. i knew it was a word that meant the pictures were good, but it just wasn't coming to me. i didn't even know if it had been a business or why they had been there. it was all a mystery to me. later that evening after struggling to free the information from my brain for hours, i remembered it was "quality portraits" and did a google search. i found a myspace page for them. on the profile the person was listed as a 60-something year old woman and she charged £3.50 for a small head and £4.50 for a large head. i wrote an email saying i would love a portrait. but sadly, i never heard anything back from them. i was bummed. i knew scott would be so blown away if i had managed to get one.

flash forward a year... my friend sarah and i were talking and she asked me if she had ever told me about how she used to do street caricatures in brighton. she told me a story or two about her and a friend that used to work together drawing people and how they would sit in cafe's for hours in stitches drawing celebrities. she said that when she was trying to come up with a name one of them had said to call it 'bad portraits' or something like that and the other said, "no, we should call it quality portraits". i couldn't believe it. it was sarah and i had no idea. sarah was the one i had been looking for, not some crazy, gin-soaked old lady with a dream.

it was almost like it was meant to be because now, a year later, our family had grown to 4. sarah very kindly did a brilliant portrait cobbled together from a stack of photos i gave her.
i love buying/making presents for scott. i am always so eager to see his reaction to certain things i have managed to track down or buy for him secretly when he thinks i have no idea he even likes it. so i was chomping at the bit to give him this present when xmas came. i saved it for the piece de resistance. and i have to say. sometimes i am slightly disappointed in scott's non-reaction to things, so as soon as he peeled off the wrapping paper and saw the portrait, he burst out laughing. he laughed and giggled for ages and was VERY surprised. it was the best reaction i ever got from him for a xmas present.

the whole time, i had been debating about whether to let him keep believing it was some crazy lady that drew them, or if i should tell him the real story. i thought the real story was so good. i decided to tell him. i think it might have taken a tiny bit of the shine off, but we are both in love with our Q.P. and i think EVERYONE should have one proudly displayed in their house. you can contact sarah and check out some more of her celebrity portraits here.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

the road to "location location location" part 4

when i wrote the email to "location", i tried really hard to make our story appealing. i also included a photo of us to put faces to who was writing to them asking for help. (maybe that's what swung it for us, seeing scott's sweet little face, smile and 'tache!) and now, really unexpectedly, 2 days later, we were 1/2 way to being on the show.

when the researcher called, she told me there had been 400 applicants and from our application, we were one of just a few they wanted to come reccy with only a camera and sound person to see how we came across. so, within a couple of days, they would be in hastings. i was a bit worried because i knew how much scott DIDN'T want to be a part of this. he was making a sacrifice for me and i worried his feelings might come across on film. i so wanted them to like us and want to use us on the show. i truly believed that it could possibly open up more properties to us because people can be so dazzled by tv. i thought maybe estate agents would try a little harder if they knew it was "phil and kirstie" looking for properties rather than us. at this point i think i was almost a bit conspiracy theory about it all, feeling all the estate agents were holding back all the good properties from us.

i didn't have any need to worry. scott was brilliant and more of a natural in front of the camera than either of us thought he'd be. we did the interview and they told us they would be in touch. in the mean time, we were going to see my family in the US and doing a road trip from vegas to montana to LA and back to vegas.  our one last child-free adventure together. (i am going to write separate blog posts on those trips).

while we were away on the road in the states, we got a phone call from the researcher telling us we were IN. i was so excited. scott was slightly less enthusiastic than me.  they were going to come to hastings almost pretty much straight after we got back from america. i had all my hopes pinned on their being able to find us our dream house which in retrospect was probably a lot to hope for!

while we were in LA, i started thinking about what i was going to wear for the filming. there was a whole lot more of me and then with the camera adding another 10 lbs, i was a mess. all throughout my pregnancy i was determined to still wear vintage clothes and had managed to do so. but now i was getting really big and wanted to find some cool dresses to wear for the show. in my pursuit, i had the worst day ever in LA. it was my birthday and scott and i had gone to all of my old favorite shops and i tried on dress after gorgeous dress that i would normally have no problem fitting into. but now, i couldn't get a single dress anywhere NEAR over my bump and feeling like i had a 50lb turkey strapped to my front and and some serious junk in my trunk, i ended up in tears on the shop floor. scott kept saying, "why are you doing this to yourself?" i just wouldn't give up. if it fucking killed me i was going to find something to wear and finally, my determination paid off and the very last shop had some really cute, vibrant 70s dresses. i was elated.

back in the uk, we got ready for the day to arrive. we cleaned and gave a little bit of thought to what we might say, but had no idea what they would ask us, so we tried not to let it worry us too much and just be organic on the day. i can't recall if they told us beforehand or on the day they arrived that kirsty was on maternity leave and wouldn't be coming.  i was slightly relieved because sometimes kirsty scares me. having seen first hand on the show how she could take a dislike to someone, i was worried she would tell me, as she had told many before me, that i was being completely unrealistic about the house i wanted vs the house we could afford. so now, i had one less worry on my mind.

finally...the day came. there was a knock at the door...

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

home sweet home...

while i am in the process of writing the next part of the location story, i totally forgot that i posted the link on my facebook page for the beautiful photos daniela exley took of our home, but didn't do a blog post here. daniela is a fantastic home/lifestyle photographer and is working on a project to shoot 100 interesting homes in the st leonards/hastings area and we were very lucky and very happy to be involved! check out the post about our home and the others on her blog. there are some other really nice places! here is just one of her brilliant pix of our kitchen...

Monday, 21 March 2011

the road to location location location part 3...

after the disappointment of the house purchase falling through, it was so hard starting all over again. scott and i now felt very wary that it could happen again. how were we protected? who's to say the next house we found wouldn't just go the same way and we would lose more money?  i spent every day going on the estate agents websites,, walking around hastings looking for for sale signs. i was totally on a mission.

i was still doing my stall at portobello market on saturdays, so i was busy making stock for that and all the shops i stocked, filling website orders, running to the post office and i was also starting to slow down a little the bigger my bump got. so it was hard fitting it all in. one day, i saw a house listed just a few streets down the hill from us which looked promising. so we made an appointment to have a look.

as we waited outside for the estate agent, we surveyed the area. the street seemed alright. i noticed a few kids around. the outside of the house looked nice. the property was a repossession being sold by auction. the estate agent arrived and we went in for a gander. it was obvious straight away that the people that had lived there had left in a hurry. there were still loads of boxes littered around full of...well...their lives. kids toys and books and clothing etc... it was all a little sad for me.

we made our way through the various rooms. it was all ok, but i wasn't really "feeling it".  i really wanted to like it and tried to see the potential. we walked upstairs to one of the bedrooms and as i scanned the room, something on the ceiling caught my eye. i looked up again and realised that somehow, very crudely embedded into the ceiling, was this huge rubber dildo... classic...but at this point, we were feeling so desperate, that didn't even put me off. it was like a "feature".

we talked through the pros and cons for a few days (not quite sure where the dildo fit into that). on one of my post office trips, i was talking to kay who worked there. kay was a tough cookie who to some could seem really rude and intimidating, but i got on her good side early on. she was the kind of person who just gets shit done quickly with speed and ease. she was never flustered by anything. she chatted and worked away at the same time. she knew of the ongoing house drama. i told her about the place we looked at and she said, "not THAT road. you fucking joking? you wouldn't want to live there. it's ROUGH." and if kay said it was rough...

i found it so hard to believe what a difference a couple streets in any direction could mean. as nothing else was materializing, we still mulled it over. we decided to go for another look. this time, as we waited for the estate agent, we noticed the kids on the road looked a bit more frightening... a bit more menacing than we remembered. we also noticed the house next door had a few boarded up windows and there were 3 massive, heavily tattooed guys coming in and out of it throwing boxes into a car. they saw us waiting outside and i asked if they were moving in or out. "we're OUT of here!" one of them said. "this road is a NIGHTMARE! kids throwing rocks through the windows, bullying, break-ins, we've had enough." i think pretty much needless to say, we decided to give it a miss.

that night, as we sat and watched tv, "location location location" was on. there was a bit at the end that said anyone wanting help finding a house should contact them. this was perfect. i thought our situation had all the elements needed for a show like this...hastings is an "up and coming" area, i was pregnant, we had artistic careers, we were desperate... i went straight to the computer and started writing an email to them. the next day... much to scott's total horror...i had a reply! more to come....
i think scott would say this pretty much sums things up...

Friday, 18 March 2011

the road to location location location part 2...

so... where was i? i was about 5 or 6 months pregnant and we were just about to buy our house. we had paid out money for all the searches etc... paid solicitors fees and signed on the dotted line. we were just waiting for the seller to sign the contract. then... the seller fell off the face of the planet. the estate agent couldn't get him on the phone. he didn't answer emails and for a couple of weeks, he almost just ceased to exist. finally, the estate agent reached him, and couldn't really get much out of him apart from there was some kind of family issues or personal problems he was going through. it was all very vague and very confusing.

i have to say here, that we were just beside ourselves, not really knowing where we stood with any of it and the estate agent wasn't much help. it was definitely no skin off his nose either way. in america, real estate is a totally different game. i guess because there is a lot of commission to be made on the sales by the agents. it's pretty much like the scene in the film "american beauty". there's a lot of personal investment. you get open houses with food and drinks laid on for you and the estate agents can't accommodate you enough throughout the process. but, here,  i was kind of shocked by how little any of the agents we dealt with in the whole searching/buying process seemed interested or helpful in finding or selling us a house, or getting to the bottom of what was happening with our sale.

so not knowing what else to do, i asked the estate agent, as the property was just around the corner from us, whether maybe i should pop a note through the door to let him know that we were sympathetic to whatever he was going through but we still wanted to buy the house, and if he needed some time, that was ok etc... he said, " hey... why not... let me know what happens." so i wrote a note and scott and i headed off to put it through his door.

just after i put the note through the mail slot, as we headed into town, scott ran into a guy he knew. he was this total slacker who i'd never seen before. they were talking away and he starting telling us about how he'd been 'totally high on liquid acid for days' and 'really partying hard' and just laughing away.  as i stood there wondering how scott knew him, he said, " you should come over for a cuppa some day." scott said, "which number are you?" i just knew, at that moment, what number he would say. i waited for it. he said it. and there i was, stood face to face with the person who had been putting us through hell for weeks. the guy who had been avoiding us. the reason we were down over 1000 precious pounds spent on searches and legal fees. the one who 15 minutes before i had so much concern and compassion for, and now i just wanted to fucking murder.

i just stared at him in disbelief and said  " um... we're the people buying your house." his face quickly  went to an expression of absolute shock and he started saying " aww... man... oh no... oh... uh...we really need to talk man... oh... er... i uh... "i'll call you man... i'll call you. " scott and i turned away from him and started the walk into town not really knowing what to say or feel.

it turned out scott really didn't know him. he was a friend of an acquaintance that he had chatted to only a week earlier at a pub. it was weird that when they talked at that time, the subject so easily could have come up. scott said he then remembered that the guy had said at the time they spoke that he was "keeping a low profile" and "avoiding some people". he never called us and the acquaintance heard about what was going on and told him he needed to. that what he was doing was really not very cool. so he did. he just decided to bail out. for no reason really. that was that.

so, we began looking for houses again. but now, we were a bit further down the road and hastings was being touted here and there as "up and coming" and prices were on the rise. there was nothing in our budget. and we were really getting depressed and convinced we had missed our chance to get something we loved with what we could afford. now we were a bit desperate! stay tuned....

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

location location location...

a few people have emailed me to ask if scott and i were the couple featured on the tv programme "location location location", and...we i thought that i would write about the experience!

scott and i were living in london, or as they said on the show, "living the london high life" (that always made me laugh!) and loving it. both being self-employed, we had great lives with a lot of flexibility and made the most out of that! but we were each living in studio flats and were paying crazy money for what we had in reality. then we started to hear tales of greener pastures.

a few of scott's illustrator friends had moved to hastings from london and it seemed like it was starting to become a nice little community of interesting and creative people. when one of his friends got married, we came to hastings for the wedding and we were completely amazed at how much bang you got for your buck! in london, to rent my studio flat, 2 rooms and a shared bathroom that was down the hall, cost £585 a month. in hastings, that got you a 3 bed house with a garden! and it wasn't that far to london on the train. but best of all, it was by the sea. after a night of total hedonistic bliss at the reception, the view on walk over the west hill was breathtaking and in an instant, we were both sold. so we packed up and headed for hastings.

view from the west hill

we rented a lovely little house on the west hill and were keeping an eye out for a property to buy. i had my heart set on a victorian house with a lot of light and space for working, but it became apparent that there were a lot of people looking for the same type to property to buy within our price range and they were either getting snapped up or they were in need of a lot of tlc, which was beyond our budget. then, i found out i was pregnant and as we were slightly cramped in our little house, each needing a studio space for our work, it became a bit more desperate to find a place.

i was getting really discouraged. my life became totally immersed in the world of estate agents and property websites. i spent months trawling day after day hoping something would magically appear within our budget. prospects were really grim when all of a sudden, we found the place that made our hearts sing. it had that feeling, that warmth we were both looking for. and it was on the next street over from where we already were. we immediately put in an offer and began the buying process. but then... here's the cliff all went to hell... stay tuned for part 2!

ruby dixie in grazia magazine march 17th issue!

the ruby dixie
 "portrait of a lady" bracelet is in this week's grazia magazine! sweeeet!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

new treasure!

here are a few of the latest additions on the ruby dixie website...

and for the music lovers...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

scottie's klutz book

YAY! the book that scott illustrated on `'how to draw" for the children's book company KLUTZ has finally hit the shelves in america! it even has a little video. check it out at: From Klutz Listing