Sunday, 27 May 2012

Last Sunday In May (Saving the best till last)

Wisteria framing our front door 

Scinitillating sunshine & sparkly sea

Frothy cow parsley

Afternoon walk on the rolling Downs
Happy horses
Crows & church spires
The best of both worlds 

Returning home to a cuppa in the garden - it may not have been the sunniest of Mays, but today was worth waiting for.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

May Days

(Maytime poster from a selection in the Emporium) I can't help but feel a little excited about the beginning of May. Yes, I know how grey and wet it is, how unbelievably wet this drought is, how the slugs and snails are having a field day in the garden and that the peonies are being devoured before they even get a chance to put on their new summer dresses. "May" always sounds like it should bring such promise, Spring, blossom, warmer days, the start of evenings outside, long walks in the countryside, the wonderful Brighton Festival that fills the town with people, ideas, colour, creativity and the unexpected, new shoots in the garden (well, those that haven't been eaten by the slugs) and a change of food in the kitchen. Yet, if I'm brutally honest, what I always remember at the start of Spring is my navy blue school gym knickers, smelly rubber soled plimsolls, the waxed wooden floor of the school hall, the despair at finding who your teacher has paired you up with as a dance partner and the whole palaver of the dreaded Maypole being wheeled out from somewhere beneath the stage from the cupboard "where we were never ever allowed to go..."
Memories of the start of the summer term at Primary school for me come tied up in the different colour sashes that we were made to wear to sort out our teams in the Maypole gymboree accompanied by the wonderful whiff of wallflowers that would float into the school hall from the very green and very large fields that surrounded it (I have conveniently blocked out all the other smells that accompanied the forty of us ten year olds as we pranced around that hall).
I remember wondering in awe how the ribbons we were holding would ever ever make the patterns intended. The worry of 'ducking' instead of 'weaving', the mass of tangles that inevitably followed us as we skipped merrily around that pole in a whirlwind of mayhem. As we feverishly danced round and round, lighting the very short fuse that was the teacher's temper, from somewhere in the corner of the room that Country Dance music kept on blaring - indefeatable in its optimism that we would master the skills required from us. After all, just how difficult could it be to create a yellow and red plait hanging from a wooden pole created by three dozen unco-ordinated children? There were days when plaits and patterns were achieved, there were days when hoardes of us were sent out of the hall for not being able to control our giggles, there were days when we all decided it would be fun to 'accidentally fall over' each other so that the music had to stop and we would have to start all over again. There were days however when the teacher was so suitably impressed with our dancing and plaits that we were promised a slot in the summer concert, showing off our skills to our parents (but these, I seem to remember were few and far between). And in my memories there were always days, those special Maydays, when the last piece of equipment was wheeled away, we were untangled from our ribbons and sashes, smelly plimsolls were banished to our shoebags and coat hooks and we were set free onto the school field to run and laugh and show off our new found dancing skills whilst one of us stood shrieking us in some poor impersonation of our beleaguered PE teacher.
Whilst I know deep down that the sun didn't always shine and that more often than not our dancing escapades were followed by "wet plays" where we were trapped inside the classroom looking longingly out of the windows at our beloved field outside, it's on grey, wet May days like today that a pair of rose coloured glasses come in very handy. PS Sorry for the lack of paragraphs, it's not that I spent all my time at school dancing and prancing and forgetting how to create a paragraph, more a case of holding up my hand and "Miss, it's not fair, new blogger just won't let me do what I want to do." (although I do remember my last teacher at prinary school saying he wouldn't give me any more "A's until I mastered the art of the paragraph) So if anyone can help with advice on how to make a paragraph I would be very grateful and if reading this post makes you feel as breathless as I did spiralling round that maypole - I am sorry!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Hello (Stage Whisper)

I seem to have lost my blogging voice and am back with a whisper...

Friday, 23 December 2011

Bright Be All Your Days!

And happy may you be. With very best wishes for a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy and Peaceful New Year x

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Paris At Midnight

Well if Santa is going to be doling out any pressies around here this year, I certainly deserve prize for world's worst blogger. Not sure what's happened this year, I just can't seem to sit down and write a decent post. Apologies all round, I will try harder in the New Year. Note to Santa, "Please, if you're reading this upon your travels and happen to find my blogging mojo, please return and I'll make sure there's an extra mince pie waiting for you at bottom of the chimney".

Looking over my blog I can see that the last thing I mentioned was a chocolate pumpkin and an earlier post on my eldest's 18th birthday. Well the two are sort of connected - and I'm not inferring that my Big Sister is in anyway related to Cinderella....
On the evening of her 18th we promised her a party and recklessly agreed to leave the house. We went to see Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris", hoping that in some way it would a) take our mind off of what was going on at home in our absence (it did, kind of), b) offer picture perfect glimpses of one of our favourite places (it certainly did), c) mark a return to form for Mr Allen (it almost did) and d) whet our appetites for a forthcoming holiday in Paris (it certainly did).
We sat through the film oohing and aahing at the most romantic nighttime shots of Paris, recognising most of them and vowing to revisit them. We gasped when we saw our favourite restaurant featured in the film (not the 'posh one" but a little bistro where much of the pivotal action happens) and vowed to retrace our steps on our return.

So this time in Paris, again we were blessed with wonderful Autumnal weather, bright in the day and mild at night - we walked and we walked and we walked. Paris at night is heavenly, and definitely very very romantic. Up and down the cobbled streets of the Latin Quarter, along the Seine, over Lover's Bridge (Pont des Arts) which is covered in padlocks symbolising lovers' everlasting love, we walked our socks off.

Not being in a position to do any shopping (boy was it expensive in Paris!), we indulged in late night window shopping along the Boulevard St Germain, choosing our favourite macaroons and designer clothes. As it was just before Halloween the windows of the chocolatiers were resplendent and it was there we saw that chocolate pumpkin.

Our eldest daughter had taken a literary guide with her and by day we followed in the footsteps of F Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway (who, incidentally lived for a while in an apartment opposite our hotel). We traced their steps through the Jardin du Luxembourg to cafes and shops along the way to visit Gertrude Stein at her 'salon". We were lucky enough to visit the most wonderful exhibition at the Grand Palais of the many fantastic works of art collected by the Stein Family again at night.

We pounded the streets in search of Oscar Wilde's final resting place. We walked from North to South, in search of the Beat poets, Samuel Becket and many more. We finally were able to take the girls along to visit the beautiful Pere LaChaise Cemetry and the one at Montparnasse too. It was not morbid at all just very, very interesting.

We visited our favourite ever bookshop again.

We ate our lunches at 5pm and suppers at 10pm. We stumbled out of bed just in time to catch the last of the breakfast in the hotel salon (we stayed again in the same pretty hotel as last time),

bathed our feet and somehow steeled ourselves for more miles of walking. We visited museums, markets, bakers and took shelter from the most dramatic rainstorm I have ever seen, and learnt that the very best way to see this beautiful city, apart from in that Woody Allen film, is on foot in the Autumn, at night when the light and romance fills the air, or during the day when the history, culture and determination of an 18 year old to complete her literary tour makes you forget your blisters and savour it all.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Waiting For The Oven....

I'm sitting here waiting for the oven to warm up, so it can be nice and toasty for my carrots to roast... not good at twiddling my thumbs and the rest of supper is taken care of . So thought I'd just let you know that Dottie and I have got our skates on and opened the Grotto, and with a loud and jubilant "ho ho ho!", I'm happy to say you can find it HERE.

We're also over the moon to say that you can also find it mentioned in this month's edition of Homes & Antiques magazine too.

I'm off now to spice my carrots and crank up the heating, have a wonderful weekend and I will be back soon with tales from The Left Bank

Vintage gramophones....
and, the biggest chocolate pumpkin I have ever seen


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Ned's In The Nursery

Over at The Emporium, we were slightly perturbed yesterday to hear the clippety clop sound of hooves and wheels on the Nursery floor. Imagine our surprise to find this little fellow, settling down with all the other vintage toys and games.

This 1950s Chiltern Toys donkey on wheels seems to have trotted over seeking pastures new. We have both taken a bit of a shine to him and have spent rather too much of the past 24 hours smuggling carrots into the Nursery. In good condition for his age too, he really is hot to trot!!!

Worry not, he's not completely alone, along side all the other gorgeous cuddly vintage toys, it's fair to say that Stocking Stitch Suzie has taken rather a shine to him ... those big beautiful blue eyes of hers have come over all bashful...

Elsewhere in the Emporium, there are crinoline ladies in the Scullery (just perfect for afternoon tea) - who could resist a set of "Pinkie" tea plates?

And as Autumn takes hold and the evenings and mornings become decidedly "brrrrrr", there are recipe books full of home recipes and this gorgeous Duck Egg Blue Casserole Dish for your Autumn casseroles.

We refuse to say goodbye completely to summer and there are lots of summery florals in the Attic at the moment.

1940s calendars to decorate your walls (and allow a spot of daydreaming), pictures and paintings aplenty.

If you can't bear the thought of wellies and woollies, then how about a spot of armchair gardening - vintage of course!

Or childhood nostalgia or adventure - Enid Blyton style?
Judging by the sound of rolling wheels, I expect Ned and Stocking Stitch Suzie have trotted along to view the Library shelves too - hope they've found something good to read...

Just thought you might like a quick peep at what's been going on over at The Emporium recently. Lots of new goodies and the odd giddyup!

(Thank you all so much for all the lovely birthday wishes for Big Sister. She had a wonderful day and night! And has plans to do more of the same for a good few weeks to come!

Friday, 14 October 2011

Seems Like Yesterday...

Eighteen years ago today my beautiful daughter was born. I don't know where the time has gone, but I do know we have been blessed.
Open that window wide my darling, the world is yours, go and embrace it.
We love you - Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Food For The Soul

Readers, get your paniers! Mornings like this call for some serious retail therapy. When its wet and grey, when an unexpected school run forces a very unpleasant contretemps with a rude and surly man in a van, when you've already drunk your daily quota of tea and feel like your never going to feel warm and dry again, a touch of shopping is just what's required.

No, we're not talking ordinary trundle round the supermarket, trolley, purse and reward card at the ready -

we're talking a gentle stroll through the Provencal streets that are so hot that you're grateful of all the dappled shade you can find. Reader, on a day like this, can you imagine that?

Against the sunbleached ochre walls of shuttered buildings underneath an azure sky, let's take some time choosing our meals today...

no need to hurry, time is on our side and there's always tomorrow as there's a market every day here in Aix.
A kilo of this and a kilo of that, a bunch of basil, multi coloured tomatoes,

baby aubergines, zingy zesty fresh mint.

How about some olives?


Even the peppercorns are colourful today...

Some crockery to brighten the kitchen table.

Sunflowers against Provencal tablecloths, carrier bags echoing their golden hue.
The summer sunshine increases as the morning progresses so we shall wander slowly, breath in the scents and sounds and savour the delights.

A gentle nod to Autumn as we discover the stalls of mushrooms, fresh and dried.
Nothing pressing to do, just wander and taste ... some goats cheese and figs for lunch perhaps?

Ratatouille and salad for supper maybe?

Definitely an ice cream on the way home...

But don't worry, we can do it all again tomorrow (and believe me reader we did! A morning didn't pass without a trip to the market) - now wouldn't that be nice ....