Sunday, 21 November 2010


A chrysanthemum - or something Princess Margaret would have worn on her head?

The hothouse was the only source of bright colours at Wisley this weekend.

Elsewhere the rust tones of Autumn predominated.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Explain that

The huge Gauguin exhibition at the Tate Modern is a riot of beautiful colour. It is possible to get right up to many of the paintings and so examine closely the way Gauguin layered and blended colours.

Yet oddly it was Ai Weiwei's installation down in the Turbine Hall, a huge expanse of grey ceramic sunflower seeds, which gave me the most pleasure.

Friday, 29 October 2010


My little girl has turned 3! When her first birthday arrived, I couldn't believe a whole year had gone by. So much happened in that first year. So much growth - for both of us. Her second birthday was a celebration of yet another year of milestones and achievements. This one, her third, made me feel a bit sad as it seemed to signify the end of baby-dom. She is now officially a little girl but she'll always be my baby.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


Judging by the frocks in
this exhibition the sun always shone in the 1950s.

Horrockses Fashions concentrated production on day and evening wear, beach clothes and housecoats, mainly in cotton.

Dresses cost the equivalent of a week's wages so tended to be purchased for special occasions such as weddings, honeymoons and holidays, or, if you're the Queen, tours of the Commonwealth.

I asked my mum if she'd owned one. She said they were out of reach for her but her pretty, spoiled, only-child college roommate would always come back after summer break with a couple in her suitcase. Mum and her friends had to content themselves with walking to the local dress shop each Monday to see the latest designs in the window. Just as well they didn't have credit cards in those days!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

The lure of yarn

Mood board on the J C Rennie stand

Attending the Knitting and Stitching Show has increased my stock of knitting projects unlikely to be finished any time soon!

Added to the To Do List are:

Cabled mitts using
Blue Sky Melange 100% alpaca purchased from Loop
Pattern for Father's New Socks by Susan Crawford to be knitted in Jamieson's Shetland Spindrift
Christmas stocking from a (soon to be available) pattern from MillaMia. The yarn was purchased at a show price discounted rate.

It's about four years since I last went to the K&S Show. What I missed this time were the booths of people taking part in lessons and workshops. They are now tucked away, out of sight, in another part of the building so the 'doing' part of the show has been taken over by the selling.

One aspect of selling which could be much improved is the sandwiches. "Impressively Premium" they were not!

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

And all for ₤3

Why I love a car boot sale.......

Cath Kidston Mini Stanley Cag in a Bag - 75p
Bag for taking tap and ballet shoes and outfit to class - 50p
Flamenco dress for the dressing up box - 75p
Pair of Clarks Doodles to wear as slippers at nursery -

and all as good as new

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Made in Dagenham

Made in Dagenham

I chuckled at the sight of all the employees arriving for work carrying a thermos as it made me remember my Dad making up his with milky Mellow Birds coffee each morning.

I chuckled at Rita worrying that she wasn't dressed up enough for the Berni Inn as my family would only go to one of those on a very special occasion. Prawn cocktail for starters, followed by steak very well (over) done, then perhaps a slice of Black Forrest gateau from the sweets trolley and maybe an Irish coffee to finish.

I chuckled at the black and white news reels from 1968 showing the original lady strikers of Ford Dagenham as they most definitely didn't look like the hot-pant wearing glamour pusses of the film!

I stared at the actor playing Ford's US representative, trying to work out what I'd seen him in before. Later I discovered it was Richard Shiff/Toby Ziegler in the West Wing, beardless and very skinny.

I stared
yet again at Rosamund Pike as she shone from the screen.

I wondered how equality of pay could still be unresolved over 40 years on.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Winter's Bone

A great film. Menace was in the air the moment this film began and it didn't let up until the very end. I felt as if I'd been holding my breath the whole way through.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Upstairs Downstairs

The opener to new ITV series Downton Abbey bodes well. It is fascinating to see above and below stairs and how the servants knew so much about the goings on of the family.

My only complaint would be that the toffs didn't seem posh enough! Apart from Maggie Smith's character, they didn't seem haughty enough and the way the women in particular walked seemed off. They should have glided a bit more, been a bit more measured or something. Perhaps their corsets weren't tight enough! Some of the speech seemed a bit modern too.

It begins in 1912 so no doubt the story will move on to the Great War and all the men servants will sign up, never to return. I'll have a box of tissues at the ready.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Three Cs

A trip to London for some culture, some craft and some coffee (oh and some chugger avoidance).

Just in the nick of time, to the
Royal Academy for Sargent and the Sea then on to Spitalfields for Origins. Last year I spent too much there but this year, restraint meant I spent nothing! As before, it was the work of the many Japanese contributors that I preferred, particularly Kaori Tatebayashi, Mizuyo Yamashita and Eiko Sugano.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

KCWC - I'm late!

I fully intended to take part again in Elsie Marley's Kids Clothing Week Challenge but life got in the way this week. I had prepared for the first outfit so I am going to get cracking now, just six days late!

I had some burgundy corduroy in my stash and wanted to turn it into a pinafore dress. The pattern I'm using is Burda 9675, which was not chosen for its styling! I'm making view B but will be leaving off the ric-rac and just adding four sparkly pink buttons. The inside of the bodice and the pockets are to be lined so I've chosen "petal pink" Caress Taffetta and I'm also going to use a pink zip for some colour at the back. Both reels of cotton are also from the stash.

Better make a start!

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Wisteria at Englefield by Stanley Spencer (1954)

To cover the interests of all members of the family during a day out in the countryside of Berkshire, we visited a pub for real ale, the Stanley Spencer Gallery in Cookham for some art and the playground at Cliveden for some running around.

When we first walked through the gate into the playground, I was a bit taken aback as I'd been expecting the usual brightly coloured slides and swings. Instead, everything was made of wood and carved to create plenty of footholds for climbing.

There was also a cluster of wicker wigwams to hide in and a stack of long beanpoles to make your own. I had a great time........!

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

BP Portrait Awards

The judges of this year's BP Portrait Awards at the National Portrait Gallery got it wrong. This picture, Ciara by Alan Coulson, should have won!

If ever there were to be a competition to judge the best painting amongst the NPG's main collection my vote would go to this one of Lady Colin Campbell by Giovanni Boldini. Each time I visit the gallery, I always seek out it.

All the BP Portrait Award contenders can be viewed here.
Which would you have voted for?

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Man Booker

These two books are both on the Man Booker Prize long list, both are hardbacks sold without dust jackets and both have beautiful covers with shiny designs which sparkle as they catch the light. For me, that's where the similarities ended!

One, the
Long Song by Andrea Levy, the story of a slave called July, is a great read which trips along, despite the harrowing subject matter. I was totally immersed in the life on the Jamaican sugar plantation and wanted to follow July's story right to the end.

The other,
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell, I abandoned after 150 pages, deciding life was too short to spend it reading this! All very clever, historically interesting, highly imaginative but, as I lacked the ability to picture the story in my imagination, it became a tedious slog. It will probably win!

Friday, 27 August 2010

Orange and Green

The things that caught my eye on a recent visit to Petersham Nurseries all seemed to be orangey-yellow or green - even the cake!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Festival of Quilts

"To see quilts?" asked the puzzled taxi driver taking me to the
station so that I could catch a train to the NEC Birmingham.

Neither my explanation of what I was off to see nor the photos I've returned with do it justice!

It was a tiring day ........

... of stroking gorgeous fabrics, peering at intricate stitch-work on beautiful quilts, dreaming of having the time to commit to sewing and gawping at Amy Butler's diamond rings.

Somehow, I trekked all the way to Birmingham yet ended up only buying fabric from two exhibitors whose shops I visit regularly anyway!

The Robert Kaufman icecream print "Confections"and the mushroom print "My Happy Garden" by Cloud 9 Fabrics were both from The Eternal Maker and the pink flowers from Fabric Galore .
All are destined to become nightwear of some sort, providing that time dream comes true.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Someone At A Distance

The Church, Lanhydrock House

We've recently returned from a week long holiday in Cornwall. It rained. A lot.

At least it gave me a chance to read the latest book being discussed on the
Persephone Forum - Someone At A Distance by Dorothy Whipple.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Never too old

After sampling a couple of the dishes from the Junior Masterchef magazine, made by my niece, I decided I had to have a copy of my own! The recipes, as well as tasting delicious, are, of course, easy to follow and don't have too many ingredients - so just about my level. The first dish I tried myself was an easypeasy gnocchi with tomato, red pepper and mozzarella and which was made in a trice - perfect!

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Decisions, Decisions

Honeycomb or Clotted Cream or Strawberries and Clotted Cream .......???

Monday, 26 July 2010


I've never seen, heard or smelt anything like it!

After reading about MimiMouse's visit to the Mayfield Lavender field, I had to go there too.

What a sight! We glimpsed the purple glow through the trees as we drove up the road and could smell the perfume too. What I hadn't expected was all the noise! The bushes were teeming, alive with buzzing bees and chirping crickets.

Whatever next

I've broken my reading mould! Rather than reading a Ruth Rendell crime or novels set in the early twentieth century, where women buy hats, worry about servants and eat boiled eggs for supper, I've just devoured two books written by men, set in the Noughties AND one was about American football!!

After watching the TV Book Club on Channel 4, I visited my local library to borrow those featured. It had a stand dedicated to the programme but the only books on display were those from the previous series. So, I took out The Silver Linings Play Book by Matthew Quick and Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby and really enjoyed both of them. Whatever next?!.......

from Juliet, Naked
"It was OK, Duncan thought, that he and Annie had never been in love. Theirs had been an arranged marriage, and it had functioned perfectly well: friends had matched up their interests and temperaments carefully, and they'd got it right. He had never once felt itchy, in the way that two connecting pieces of a jigsaw never felt itchy, as far as one could tell. If one were to imagine, for the sake of argument, that jigsaw pieces had thoughts and feelings, then it was possible to imagine them saying to themselves, 'I'm going to stay here. Where else would I go?' And if another jigsaw piece came along, offering its tabs and blanks enticingly in an attempt to lure one of the pieces away, it would be easy to resist temptation. 'Look,' the object of the seducer's admiration would say. 'You're a bit of telephone box, and I'm the face of Mary, Queen of Scots. We just wouldn't look right together.' And that would be that."

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Flutter By

Most Saturdays the ladies of our WI have a stall at a local church. They sell homemade cakes, sausage rolls, scones and jars of their jams and marmalade. The goods can be eaten there with a cup of strong percolated coffee or taken away in recycled ice-cream tubs. The current cupcake craze has passed them by so there is always an irresistible array of fairy cakes and, my favourite, butterfly cakes. This week's butterfly cake was eaten at home off the latest addition to my 'granny plate' collection.

Saturday, 17 July 2010


Apparently a sticker book = hours of fun!

Friday, 16 July 2010


Carrots and peas were part of our pickings from our last trip to the PYO farm. My small assistant was a great help with the podding, until she started to put the peas back in their pods......

They were then cooked up in to this unseasonal-looking Japanese dish, niku jaga - pork, onion, carrot, peas and new potatoes, cooked with soy sauce, sake, sugar and fish stock and served with rice.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Persephone Forum - Mariana

I really enjoyed taking part in last month's Persephone Forum on William - An Englishman. Such a good book.

The post for book 2, Mariana by Monica Dickens, is now live. I was a bit irritated by it the first time I read it but my second reading is turning out more calming. Perhaps the sunshine is helping!

Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Gooseberries, with those visible veins, give me the creeps.

This batch from the local PYO farm became this Fool which was far, far tastier than it looks. It was tart and sweet at the same time - but, I have to confess, its main appeal came from the masses of double cream!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


For Father's Day we made lemon drizzle cake, using a fantastic expandable cake tin sent from New Zealand.

Monday, 14 June 2010


Now I am a mum, how "child friendly" a cafe is, is more important to me than the quality of the coffee. How things change!

Friday, 11 June 2010

The Ghost

Really enjoyed Roman Polanski's film The Ghost.

Watching Pierce Brosnan - always a pleasure, never a chore!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

William - an Englishman

When I read that Persephone Books intended to start a forum to discuss a book each month, beginning with the first it published, William - an Englishman, I made sure I got hold of a copy. The forum is now online and has really whetted my appetite. I've only managed to read as far as chapter 3 so far so I need to crack on!

"With his colleagues of the office Tully was a negligible quantity. He was not unpopular - it was merely that he did not matter. His mother's control of the family funds was no doubt in part accountable for his comrades' neglect of his society; but his own habits and manners were still more largely to blame, since besides being painstaking and obedient he was unobtrusive and diffident. There was once a project on foot in the office to take him out and make him drunk - but nothing came of it because no one was sufficiently interested in William to give up an evening to the job."