Monday 31 May 2010

Away Day

On Friday Mr Roses and I had an away day. We felt like two children playing hooky, two adults taking a "Sickie". Eldest Rose was sitting an exam and the youngest Rose was at school so the two of us oldies decided to have a much needed few hours together away from the daily routine.

We took the train to St Leonards (I love this train journey, across the beautiful Sussex countryside and then chugging alongside the sea) and walked along the seafront to Hastings. It was just what I needed, the calm and quiet, the breeze from the sea,

the chance to look out and to look up.

The chance to notice beautiful buildings I had never noticed before.

The chance to be just a tad self indulgent and wander through the streets of the old town, admiring again the lovely old houses, dipping in and out of the antique shops.

There seems to be always a quiet street here, wandering past the beautiful old houses and cottages,

just a stone's throw from the bustling seafront.

We went to the baker's and bought our picnic lunch. We sat on the beach in the fishing quarter with the sea in front of us, the fishermen's boats to one side and the old fish smokehouses behind us and devoured our sandwiches and cakes and glugged our bottles of lemonade. If it weren't for the very cold breeze, I think I'd still be sitting there....

We strolled a little more and stopped at the sweetshop to buy some little white bags of goodies - milk bottles, toasted teacakes and giant strawberries to share with the girls when we got home (although I have to admit the toasted teacakes didn't last the journey home).

So all in all it was a very quiet day, doing nothing that out of the ordinary. But a very special day, a day away from the normal routine, a day spent just a few miles further along the coast line but felt light years away from my normal Friday routine. Thanks M, I needed it. x

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Milly & Dottie's Jolly Good Read

Just a quickie to let you know about a new competition we're running over at The Emporium - Milly and Dottie's Jolly Good Read.
As our thoughts to turn to Summer Holidays and the inevitable pile of books that will be accompanying us, we decided to compile a list of favourite vintage books chosen by you.
What we would like to know is, what kind of book tickles your fancy? Is it flora and fauna? Meringues and macaroons? Kitchen sinks and afternoon teas? Jolly good adventures or a mystery or two? Is it Aunty Fanny's fruit cake and a Famous Five mystery that ticks your boxes or a touch of blackberry picking with Milly Molly Mandy? Please let us know...
For further details please see our blog and send all entries to us via our email. So if you're feeling bookish we'd love to hear from you and one lucky winner will receive a jolly good read as a prize...

Monday 24 May 2010

Sunshine o'clock

Well the sun finally came and boy did it shine! What a wonderful weekend - sunshine, lazy days and blue skies. On Saturday morning we visited a local plant sale which is held at the end of the festival and filled our bags and baskets with flowers and veg. By late morning we knew it was going to be a scorcher and made plans to lie low in the garden.

Even with the beach on our doorstep, the garden seemed the perfect place to be. Our new plants sat for a while on the garden table as we waited until early evening to plant them. Cushions, blankets, newspapers, books and games were scattered across the garden and all we had to do was sit and turn the pages, throw a dice and stagger in for a drink or two.

I found a recipe in the paper for a cake that sounded so tempting and, surprisingly for one that I found I had all the ingredients. I mustered enough energy to slink into the cool of the kitchen and make this very tasty cake, which was very easy to make, even on a sweltering day. Perfect for eating under the apple tree.

We took it turns to lie on the hammock. I looked up at the sky and marvelled at its colour next to the slowly returning leaves of the ash tree at the bottom of the garden.

At times it was just too hot and we all took shelter, the sky being even bluer than the parasol.

Little Sister reclaimed her favourite spot for reading, up in the apple tree. Big Sister managed to perfect her tan and revise (oh how I hated having to revise when I was younger, it was always on the hottest days, when all I really wanted to be doing was swimming or lying in the sun doing nothing at all).

And the sun brought out the Dr Dolittle in Mr Roses. Using the bird calls that I bought him for his birthday, he decided to "talk" to all the birds in the neighbourhood and it worked! Within minutes we had a semi circle of birds in the trees around us all chirping away, one very happy Mr Roses and two very bemused cats...
But what was best of all about Saturday was that it was a day that passed at its own pace - no rushing around, no shopping or crowds, no noise apart from the birds and Mr Roses and a sense that the day had been truly savoured and yet nothing much had been really "done".

Friday 21 May 2010

Friday Flowers

On the walk to school this morning I passed by a front garden filled with brightly coloured wallflowers, the colours of your favourite boiled sweets in an old fashioned jar in an old fashioned sweet shop. Amongst them sat forget-me-nots, their delicate heads nodding in the gentle breeze. As I walked past the air was full of the scent of those wallflowers and I was immediately transported back to the field at my primary school.

They must have been planted somewhere amongst the trees or in one of the borders, for the scent of those flowers took me back immediately to that field amidst the daisies, playing with my friends on what seemed to be very hot summer playtimes. They also conjured up the colours of the sashes we used to have to wear on Sports Day to differentiate our teams, I was always yellow and the sight of us all lined up on the field with our coloured stripes reminded me of the ribbons hanging from the maypole that we also used to dance round at this time of year.
All this from a few seconds passing a front garden...

Today has been a glorious day, Beautifully hot, lovely and still and a chance to savour the garden, listen to the birds and to sit in the garden, on the bench and dangle my hand indolently over the cat's tummy as she lies belly up slowly melting in the sun.

At the back of the garden the ceonathus has really taken off this year and looks so lovely against the ivy covered walls.

Under the apple tree the last few remaining bluebells sit.

The alliums are coming out to play for the weekend

and stand majestically amongst the muddle of the borders.

I managed to save a lone anemone from the slugs and placed in a vase and brought it

I picked the first two peonies from the front garden to accompany it
And photographed them to share with you

Have a lovely weekend and especially for all of you who are in the middle of exams
and, moreover, for all of you LIVING with people taking exams - take time to smell the flowers.

Monday 17 May 2010

Window shopping

A few weeks ago when we went up to London to visit The Transport Museum, we indulged in a spot of retail therapy... for me this involved a visit to two of my all time favourites and whilst no pennies left my purse I left the shops feeling as happy as if my shopping bag were full.

There are some shops you dream of owning, some shops you can't wait to leave, some shops you visit out of necessity and some out of curiosity. Well, Persephone Books and Penhaligon's belong firmly in the first category in my book, excuse the pun.
I love everything about a visit to the Persephone bookshop in Lambs Conduit Street, from its soft dove grey, modest exterior,

to the book lined shelves, the poster covered walls, the soft draping fabrics, the mugs,

notebooks and parcels waiting to be sent. I hear that they have had a bit of a turn around lately and the book covered table has changed but I can't imagine this making me love the place any the less.

There is a quietness and domesticity about the place that makes me feel instantly "at home".

The feeling that the women working in the shop love the books as much as the customer, that each title is revered and stands alone and really doesn't need much in terms of publicity and hype.

I could browse all day and even Mr Roses succumbed this time and left with a new book to add to his collection. Huge thank you to the staff for letting me take some photos to share.

Just off the hurly burly of Covent Garden sits Penhaligon's in Wellington Street. A beautiful old fashioned shop with wooden shelves filled with the most marvellous, marvellous scents and packaging. It's hard to refrain from trying them all, even Mr Roses left with his hands daubed in lily of the valley handcream and wandered round the streets and sniffing his hands and proclaiming loudly how good it was! For my eldest daughter it is the home of her dream perfume, Bluebell, her 16th birthday present, the chosen scent of her literary heroine, Cassandra from "I Capture the Castle". For my youngest daughter is a chance to smell as many flowers as possible and imagine herself camping in the woods, so evocative are the scents. For me it is a chance to indulge in my memories, on this last visit I was overcome by smells that reminded me of my mother's handbag and the staff told us that this was a frequent happening. People often visited the shop to smell again the favourite scents of lost loved ones, so strong and evocative is the association.
It is a very old fashioned shop with really friendly staff and if. like me, you don't have the pennies to indulge, this needn't stop you going along to take a sniff...

As we walked along the streets of Bloomsbury we gazed at the old beautiful Georgian buildings and did a spot of plaque reading, here lived Lytton Strachey, member of the Bloomsbury Group. We walked round the squares and followed their footsteps...

At lunch we sat and gazed out of the restaurant window and looked out onto the beautiful quintessentially English buildings through garlic string curtains.

And finally I popped into this shop, Anthropologie, not so much for me, but for all the blog readers that have fallen in love with this place.
It was a riot of flora and fauna, the shop window,

lighting and exotically planted walls were a sight for sore eyes, just amazing.

But if I had to choose, I'm sorry to say it would be the quieter shops that take my fancy. Give me a Persephone any day...

Wednesday 12 May 2010

New Shoots...

Ooo I'm very excited, those two little minxes, Milly and Dottie, have started their own blog! I knew they were up to something, there was a lot of giggling going on in that stockroom... Do pop along and say hello, I think it's going to be fun!

Monday 10 May 2010

Happy Mondays...

So today is my eldest daughter's last day at school... how can that be? Wasn't it only a little while ago that she stood in the hallway dressed proudly in her Primary school uniform swinging those pigtails gaily in the air and smiling rather nervously for the camera?
Days and years waiting for her to come out of school doors, invariably clutching a note in her hand, displaying her love and her newly found writing skills...
Days full of laughter and intrigue, head bent over books, thirsty for knowledge, devouring every book.
Evenings spent worrying and fretting, sympathising and agonising.
Homework and coursework completed, triumphs and despairs.

And now today, the start of a new week, a new beginning, college and a step nearer to your dreams...
Good luck my darling, you have made us so very proud and in "those' words - "never have a Plan B". xxxx
Happy Mondays

Wednesday 5 May 2010


I've come to the conclusion and I probably am one of the last to do so, that this city was born to party! And it all seems to reach a culmination in the month of May, the festival begins, the sun tries to shine, people are on the streets, doors are open, the trees begin to blossom and the fun is there for the taking...

(resisting the temptation to paint over the gorgeous hidden colours of this old bracket)

I am in danger of taking all of this for granted. Living up a hill from the city centre I tend to gaze eastwards for trips along the coast and inland for walks along the Downs. I come down the hill for a bit of foraging and leave my seaside strolls along the Prom to the winter when all is quiet and the sea mist envelops the piers and muffles the sounds of the waves...

However, come May, it would be foolish to ignore all the wonders that are on offer.

From the wonderful, wonderful Children's Parade that kickstarts the Festival into action, to the most amazing piece of theatre that we visited on Saturday... I can't say more about it, other than if you are in the area, go see it, it truly is dream-like, enchanting, not what you expect and the best use of the building space you could ever imagine. It's so good that I'm going again tonight taking Big Sister but I won't divulge anymore as I don't want to spoil it for anyone.

Also this weekend we took Little Sister and her friend to the theatre and were back home again in time for lunch!

The following day we went down to see Brian Eno's 77 million paintings exhibition

and sat on sofas and watched,


Excuse the poor photos,

they really are no substitute for the real thing.

(a special dress...)

There are so many things to visit and see, fabulous Open Houses, go along and see Emma's if you can, themed walks around the city, jazz (saw some of that on Tuesday), the only problem I'm having is finding the time and money to fit it all in (I hate to say it but I fell asleep twice at the concert on Tuesday and was practically horizontal by the encore).

(up on the kitchen shelf...)

And as the sun shines through the windows here I have decided to look up and around in different directions, places that I wouldn't usually see and share with you some glimpses...

(a glimpse of Spring from my bedroom window)

TheBrighton Festival runs until 23rd May and the Open Houses are open at the weekends.