Thursday 28 February 2008

Spring Greens

Have you noticed the change of colours in the shops? I've just got back from a quick trip into town and the shops are full of the most gorgeous coloured clothes in greens and yellows. A really good combination I think.

I've always loved green and thankfully it's a colour that suits me, the yellow I'm not too sure about and I'll be leaving that for Big Sister, who's been dropping a lot of hints recently about yellow shoes. These two colours sum up spring so well, even on a grey drizzly morning like today when I had nothing nicer than a set of revision Maths books to buy for my daughter (the poor thing, I really feel for her) you can't fail to be cheered when you walk round and see the new spring clothes in the shops.

The primroses are beginning to appear in the garden too. So many shades of green, fresh and vibrant around out there.
In my sewing box I seem to have at least ten spools of green thread. I don't know why I'm just drawn to the colours, whenever I see an old spool of cotton at the car boot I pounce on it.

This green is perhaps my current favourite, as much for it's name as for it's colour - "Dark lovebird", gorgeous! I'd love to know who has the wonderful job of coming up with these names. I'm going to go through my sewing box and take photos of my favourite names some time.

Earlier on in the week I managed to do a little crafting. Drawn again to these two colours, I made up a little Easter bundle for my Etsy shop. A trio of lavender sachets in green and yellow complete with a vintage Easter Card and floral postcard.

I also dipped into my little collection of china brooches that I wrote about recently and added the little floral lapel pin, which is attached to a gift tag. It is a little burst of spring freshness even when the sun isn't shining.

Monday 25 February 2008

thank yous

The house is quiet for the first time in a week. The girls are back at school and M is at work. It has been a good week and we have all benefitted from having time together without always having one eye on the clock, homework, oven, washing machine, school uniform situation. So they have gone back to school a little sad that the holiday is over and I am here thinking about just how easy it is for us to get caught up in the whirlwind of school, work, timetables and alarm clocks and slip into taking each other for granted. I am as guilty of it as they are. When tired and frazzled they argue and fight and when I'm feeling the same I forget to notice the sound of them singing and squealing around the house or those days when. having caught up on their sleep, they take delight in each other's company and go out of their way to make me laugh.
What was really good about this holiday was that I was able to spend a day alone with each of my daughters. They had sleepovers at various friends, so while one was off I took full advantage of spending time with the other. What a difference it made to have one child to focus on, to talk to and listen to. With Big Sister I shopped, of course, had lunch and had the inevitable fashion parade at home when all the new clothes were modelled and her choice of DVD in the evening. She told me that she'd had a really good day and I really enjoyed having a chance to talk to her, albeit amongst the clothes rails in TopShop. But best of all, according to her, was this little green dress she bought (it's her Cassandra dress, from THAT book).

Little Sister and I spent our day in Lewes. We met M for lunch and wandered down to the children's bookshop to stock up. We came home to chocolate cake and a DVD. It was a quiet but very special day, just the two of us and nobody vying for attention, lovely.

M and I have been together for twenty years and I have only recently discovered that I have been living with the Master of the Double bluff! I don't know how many times he has fooled me into believing that he hasn't bought me a present and then surprised me.

Meet Miss Blossom! She arrived yesterday morning, Sunday morning M had popped out to get a newspaper, I was still in my pyjamas and a man knocks on the door with Miss Blossom in his arms, "for you" he says. I fell in love with Miss Blossom a few months ago in a local antique shop, having wanted a mannequin for years. She was just too expensive. On Saturday I popped into the shop as I noticed it was closing down but even with the discount she was out of my reach. I did spot a large old apple crate to keep my cookery books in, but as I had my arms full of food shopping M agreed to go back later in the day to collect the crate. When he came back I asked if Miss Blossom was still there and he said she was but the last thing we needed was a tailor's dummy. I thought no more of it and took him at his word, until .... Thank you M again not just for the present but the surprise and for reminding me just how much you do listen..

Why Miss Blossom? She is of course the mannequin that shares a room with Cassandra and Rose, in "I Capture the Castle". And I'm happy to say that, like the one in the book, mine has a very "noble bust" perhaps not the words my youngest used this morning when she stared in amazement at her ample chest! Until yesterday my only experience of a Miss Blossom was a very formidable PE teacher at school whose strictness belied her very pretty name, so it's nice to have closure on that!!! I'm now on the hunt for a pretty 30s tea dress for Miss Blossom so if you know of any going cheap (haha) let me know - oh the fun we'll be having ...

Time now to thank some people - the wonderful Louise passed this award on to me last week. Thanks Louise!! Hope you're all feeling better too, Louise has just spent her holiday looking after four poorly children, so if anyone deserves an award it's her.

Thanks too to Jennifer for sending me all these goodies. I was lucky enough to win a giveaway a couple of weeks ago on her blog and received this wonderful parcel last week. The cup and saucer have been following me from room to room, they are so pretty I can't decide where to put them, definitely not in the kitchen cupboard.

I'm off to do some sewing now. I did find an afternoon last week to make up this little cushion from some vintage fabric I found at the car boot. I think the cat has got her eye on it, she's just lapping up the last of the morning sun before nestling in.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Feeling bookish

Thank you all so much for your lovely kind comments on the last post. I am beginning to feel better and slowly catching up on some sleep. You are all so supportive, thank you!

Our half term started at the weekend with a trip to the British Museum in London (yes another project to be completed during the holidays). I cannot believe how lucky we are to have so many treasures to view in our museums, not sure whether they should still be there or returned to their native countries, but that's another story. I love the British Museum.

The majesty of the building and the magnificence of its contents never fail to leave me awestruck.

As we strolled around the Egyptian rooms it was so hard for little sister and indeed, all of us, to believe that these artefacts had actually been made by the Ancient Egyptians themselves. Learning about the Egyptians in a classroom is one thing but seeing real sarcophagus, mummies and treasure is another.

The museum is in one of my favourite parts of London - Bloomsbury. I could walk its streets for hours, there is so much history around here. When I was a student I loved strolling around the colleges and visiting the careers office just to have a nose round the buildings. Rows of gorgeous Georgian houses and beautiful squares, blue plaques on many of the homes. It is easy to imagine the Woolfs or any of the other "Bloomsberries" strolling around. So many hidden gems behind those facades. It would have been wonderful to have visited in the 20s and 30s.

A few months ago I read about a publishing house in this area of town that I wanted to visit. I forgot the name and had almost given up when out of the blue I received an email from somebody who reads my blog, We'd been writing to each other about the books we were reading and she asked me if I'd heard of Persephone Books - that was it, the name of the publishers! Thank you Jackie! We managed to squeeze in a visit to the shop as well as it was just a short stroll from where we were.. It is everything I imagined, a beautiful little shop, in a beautiful street filled with beautiful books! Quiet and unassuming from the outside and totally enchanting and seductive inside. Rows and rows of beautifully printed and packaged books, mostly by women dating from the early to the mid-twentieth century. Books that have been neglected and overlooked have been given a second lease of life - I wanted them all.

Each book has a beautiful dove grey cover with gorgeous patterned endpapers and matching bookmarks. Some designs are based on fabrics by the Bloomsbury artists for example or a 30s scarf or print dress.

The hardest part was the choosing. I came home with three new books. "Marianna" by Monica Dickens, which promises to be like "I Capture the Castle" so that had me hooked, "William, an Englishman" by Cicely Hamilton which is a novel set against World War 1 and "Miss Pettigrew lives for a day" by Winifred Watson which is described as an adult Cinderella tale. I could have bought them all. You can even buy them ready gift wrapped if you could bear to part with them as presents.

The website is wonderful and the mail order is very fast, but if you get the chance try and visit the shop and see the books firsthand (and the beautiful 1930s dress that's in the window!).
I came home grinning. clutching my beautifully wrapped treasure. I've started Marianna and really enjoying it too. I wish there were more shops like this, it was more than worth the five minute walk from the museum. If you're up visiting a museum and have had quite enough of queuing in the gift shop, I can recommend this detour.

Sunday 17 February 2008


It's been a funny week. The weather has been wonderful but I've been feeling glum. Not sure why, it may have been a virus, it may have something to do with the fact that I hadn't had a decent night's sleep for over a week, whatever it was I couldn't shake off an overwhelming tiredness that was making me feel low. As much the sun was shining and the skies were blue I couldn't settle on anything and felt as if I was on the brink of tears most days. Thankfully I slept well last night and am feeling better this morning, apologies to anybody who has left a comment and I haven't responded. I will catch up. The very lovely michele provided me with the perfect pick-me-up. She had tagged me the week before to choose five posts from my blog to share with you again. Although I didn't have the energy to post this earlier, the actual reading through the blog from start to finish has really cheered me up. If anybody reading this is thinking about starting to blog, I can only say that this blog has proved to me the best record of events, thoughts and memories that I could have wished for. Looking back has been like reliving the past year, little things that I probably would have forgotten have brought smiles to my face and made my family laugh out loud. So thanks Michele, I'm feeling much better.

The rules of the tag are as follows:
Archive Meme Instructions: Go back through your archives and post the links to your five favorite blog posts that you’ve written. … but there is a catch: Link 1 must be about family. Link 2 must be about friends. Link 3 must be about yourself, who you are… what you’re all about. Link 4 must be about something you love. Link 5 can be anything you choose. I think this is a great way to circulate some of the great older posts everyone had written, return to a few great places in our memories and also learn a little something about ourselves and each other that we may not know. Post your five links and then tag five other people. At least TWO of the people you tag must be *newer acquaintances so that you get to know each other better….and don’t forget to read the archive posts and leave comments!

(if you click on the words in purple, the correct post should come up)
Link 1
My family - I'm cheating here, 2 posts.

One for each daughter - big sister

M chose these two posts and they sum up our girls.

Link 2

My friends - well I've chose my blogging friends for this one. Writing a blog can be wonderful and a large part of it is down to the kindness, humour and generosity of all of you who read it and take time to comment.

Link 3

About me
- this is a tricky one.
I don't like writing about me and am happier talking about other things. This post has me revealing a bit more and sharing one of my favourite weekends in the year.

Link 4

Something I love - my garden has to be one of my favourite places and gardening one of my favourite things. Wherever I've lived, no matter how small the garden, I've loved planting and digging and picking. This post describes perhaps a bit of my rather casual approach to my gardening!

Link 5

My own choice - this day had to be one of my favourites last year. Pure fun and family from start to finish, you can't ask for anything more.
I have deliberately chosen posts from the first six months of blogging, so that newer readers can have the chance to read some of the earlier posts. Hope you've enjoyed them, it was great having an excuse to go back and read them.
And now I must tag some people.
The first three are bloggers who commented on my earliest posts and who have shared their year with me too:
and the remaining two to be tagged, are:
Please don't feel obliged to do the tag, it is fun though. Hope you haven't minded being dragged through the archives with me!

Thursday 14 February 2008

Sounds like Dove

Have a wonderful day

Tuesday 12 February 2008

A reminder

Just in case I forget just how beautiful the sky was this morning I took my camera with me for a wander round town. Some things we take so much for granted that we no longer notice them. I can't remember when I last stopped and looked at the Royal Pavilion as I walked through its gardens to the town centre or the Lanes. How could I have got so used to its sheer "out of placeness", its flamboyance and beauty? I stopped in front of it for a few minutes this morning and wondered at its spectacle. Against the sky, you could be fooled into forgetting that you were indeed in a busy English seaside town.

Another thing I am in danger of taking for granted round here is the sheer abundance of art available to us. As I turned to take photos of the Dome (the former stables of the Prince Regent and now a concert hall) I remembered that the museum in the same building was staging an exhibition that I had long been planning to see.

I'm glad I took a detour. The exhibition, charting the history of the little black dress, since its introduction in the 20s by Coco Chanel, to the present day was wonderful.

I think we probably have all had at one time or another that little black dress in our wardrobe to fall back on. That little staple that makes us feel good and is always dependable.

Thanks to Audrey the little black dress is now an icon. Although, the Breakfast at Tiffany's dress wasn't present there were dresses from the 20s onwards. Having never owned a designer frock I marvelled at the sheer beauty of these creations, their cut, fabric and design. I wouldn't have minded any of them being in my wardrobe! I have been watching the fascinating series about Savile Row on TV and drooling over the bespoke tailoring and cut of the suits and glimpses into the parallel lives of those who buy them, some of whom are pure eccentrics (last week an explorer came to have his explorer's suit altered, he was just off to the Amazon to hunt down a meteorite - and I thought Indiana Jones was pure fantasy). Having seen close up today the beauty of a couture dress I can fully understand the temptation, if not the price!

Monday 11 February 2008

Darling buds and beautiful skies

Hope you all had a good weekend. We certainly had more than a taster of spring here over the past couple of days. It was more like the tail end of summer, beautiful, warm, bright days and cloudless skies. A little premature to believe that spring has sprung but enough to keep me going for a few more weeks.

M and I spent Saturday afternoon in the garden - tidying up and fixing things. M was intent on fixing a broken bench which had originally been earmarked for firewood. I should have guessed by the amount of mutterings that he was having one of his Caractacus Potts moments (you know, the inventor dad in Chitty, Chitty Bang Bang) when out came the power tools and he declared that the bench was to be saved but it had to be dismantled, sawn into pieces and drilled before it would all fit back together again. I'll let you know ...

It was so good to be in the garden again, lopping off the branches from the fig tree and rescuing it from the ivy that threatens to strangle it every year. Look at that sky, not a cloud all day, a brilliant blue, you can't fail to be just a little optimistic on days like these.

I dug over some beds and cut away some of the wintry staggly bits. I'm saying this as one who loves the smells of roses, hyacinths and honeysuckle, that one of the best smells there is is the smell of freshly dug soil, soil that is still wet and sleepy from its winter rest and still manages to excite. Amongst the plants were plenty of signs of new shoots and in the trees were the sounds of the birds singing and, amazingly, two enormous bees buzzing around.

So Spring is on it's way and we're not just talking birds and bees - remember these two? Well look at them four weeks later!

We went for a very long walk yesterday with friends - look at that sky.

Six hours later we came home to much needed tea and cakes, I can't believe how many cakes and packets of biscuits we got through, but it was good.

This morning I was looking through some of our gardening books and found this old book that I love.

It's full of the most wonderful engravings by Agnes Miller Parker depicting the English woodland over a course of a year, written by H E Bates. I reminded myself of just how unnaturally early this weather is and not to get too carried away with my gardening plans. But there's no denying that those buds show promise.