Friday, 31 December 2010

I drop the dying year behind me....

Guess what? I found a Carol Ann Duffy poem for New Year's Eve.
New Year
I drop the dying year behind me like a shawl
and let it fall. The urgent fireworks fling themselves
against the night, flowers of desire, love's fervency.

Carol Ann Duffy


Wishing you all a Very Happy New Year

The Month of December

It started with snow... and lots of it...Which meant
I missed going to The Vintage Wedding Dress shop with a dear friend.
We missed going to see my parents... which meant we did lots of Christmas shopping instead.
Winter cocktails with the Best Girls at Skylon - The Winter Warmer kicked quite a punch.
Wanting to be a snowflake having marvelled at The Nutcracker with mother, Twin and Blessing.
Lunch with university girls at Browns.
Festive drinks and pizza with dear friends at Rocket.
Making Cranberry mincemeat for mince pies...
It snowed again which meant...
Walking through the snow to meet up with dear old book club friends, drink mulled wine and eating mince pies and Nigella's Christmas morning muffins.
Buying The Christmas Tree. Then decorating it. And then admiring it.
More mulled wine and mince pies this time at Beas.
Christmas events at school. Our class Nativity tableau, Christmas Parties, Staff Panto.
Morning coffee in Forest Hill.
As part of trying to be productive this Christmas holiday I went along to Somerset House to see the Rene Grau exhibition on Dior illustrations. It was lovely to walk past the ice skating.

Diorama 1955

Books read - The Glass Room by Simon Mawer, Miss Buncle's Book by DE Stevenson (my Persephone secret santa).
Films watched Joyeaux Noel and Elf on Christmas Eve in front of the sparkling Christmas tree. United 93, The Reader. A most enjoyable time watching Upstairs Downstairs on BBCiplayer whilst Warmth was at work.

Shopping - bought not one but two pairs of boots - quite different ones and there was 25% off them both - so I saved money. However with the snow it took along time to wear one pair. Thankfully neither of them are in the sales - phew right decision. Good sale shopping at SpaceNK too.

Christmas Day in Kent with my family, The Blessings were on good Christmas form, Boxing Day over eating - family friends for lunch and then a drive up to London to see Granny Warmth. Huge Boxing Day tea there including Mama Warmth retelling The Story On Top of the Christmas Cake. (There's a whole post in this but basically each year there are topical (both family and news worthy) events illustrated on top. This year an errupting volcano, the Chilean miners, a 'No to university fees' protesting Father Christmas, and then when the cricket really did go well a cricketer appeared!)

Christmas cooking on the 26th for Family Warmth.
Parsnip and Stilton Soup, Turkey, Ham and Cranberry pie, Aubergine Involtini, green salads (on my insistence), potato salad and pasta salad. Christmas Pavlova, a disastrous caramalised clementine pudding, delicious Neal's Yard cheeses and then devouring a large box of Quality Street.

New Year's Eve tapas with dear friends and then back to our own homes for fizz and welcoming in 2011

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Book Gifting

A small post about the books given and received this Christmas.

For Warmth Carol Ann Duffy Another night before Christmas

and her 12 Selected Poems, Tim Burton The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy, Wisden Cricketers Almanack 1986 and 1999
For Twin Mrs Dalloway's Party Virginia Woolf
For Brother in law The Flavour Thesauraus
For Pops John Le Carre Our Kind of Traitor
For a dear friend Hatfields Herbal
For Godchild Ted Hughes The Iron Man
For another Godchild ABC in Animals

From Warmth Carol Ann Duffy Mrs Scrooge and 12 her Selected poems, a beautiful diary, A World History of Art (having mentioned once that in hindsight sometimes I think I'dd quite like to have read History of Art at university.)
From Parents Vogue covers

From a dear friend Sarah Broom Tigers at Awhitu.
Persephone Secret Santa Miss Buncle DE Stevenson

What books did you give or receve this Christmas?

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Yea Lord we greet thee

I always know in my heart and the Chistmas tingle appears when this verse is sung. (I get slightly disgruntled if it's sung before the 25th December too.)

Yea Lord we great thee,
Born this happy morning;
Jesu to thee be glory given;
Word of the father,
now in flesh appearing.


Happy Christmas To You x

Wednesday, 22 December 2010


Our final quote from the fabulous Truman Capote's A Christmas Memory

"It's bad enough in life to do without something you want; but confound it, what gets my goat is not being able to give somebody something you want them to have." Truman Capote A Christmas Memory


The gift of baking

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Decorating The Tree

"A trunk in the attic contains: a shoebox of.... coils of frazzled tinsel gone gold with age, one silver star, a brief rope of dilapidated, undounbtedly dangerous candy-like light bulbs. Excellent decorations as far as they go, which isn't far enough: my friend wants our tree to blaze..., droop with weighty snows of ornament... We do what we've always done: sit for days at the kitche table with scissors and crayons and stacks of coloured paper. I make sketches and my friend cuts them out: lots of cats, fish too (because they're easy to draw), some apples, some watermelons, a few winged angels devised from saved-up sheets of Hershey-bar tin foil... As a final touch, we sprinkle the branches with shredded cotton (picked in August for this purpose). My friend, surveying the effect, clasps her hands together. 'Now honest Buddy. doesn't it look good enough to eat? Queenie tries to eat an angel." Truman Capote A Christmas Memory

How will you decorate your tree?

Monday, 20 December 2010

Finding The Tree

" I know where we'll find real pretty trees... And holly, too. With berries as big as your eyes...
'We're almost there; can you smell it Buddy?' she says, as though we were approaching an ocean.
And, indeed, it is a kind of ocean. Scented acres of holiday trees, prickly leafed holly. Red berries shiny as Chinese bells: ...we set about choosing a tree. 'It should be,' muses my friend, 'twice as tall as a boy. So a boy can't steal the star.' The one we pick is twice as tall as me. A brave handsome brute... Lugging it like a kill, we commence the long trek out...But we have the strength of triumphant huntsmen; that and the tree's virile, icy perfume revive us." Truman Capote A Christmas Memory


Tomorrow we'll decorate the tree.

Friday, 17 December 2010

What is a Marriage?

"What is a marriage? Words. A commitment. We pledge ourselves to someone else. It is probably the most significant commitment any of us can make, and it depends on our moral determination to honour it. A declaration of marriage does not mean: 'We are man and wife so long as we find each other attractive or compatible; so long as we feel passion for each other; so long as we don;t meet someone more attractive.' It means 'I will be woth you whatever faith brings. I will stay loyal to you. When you need me, I'll be there. When things are tough, I won't walk away.' A marriage can begin in attraction, shared interests or common destiny, but by moralizing the bond it lifts it to an altogether different plane. A personal commitment is stronger than passion, emotion or attraction. It is a pledge to spend a life together, come what may." Chief Rabbi Jonathon Sacks Celebrating Life

Alternative Wedding Flower Love

peony love
stem vase love

floral tin can love
Hope you've enjoyed this week.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

A ring glimmers on your hand

No I'll not take the half...
No, I'll not take the half of anything!
Give me the whole sky! The far-flung earth!
Seas and rivers and mountain avalanches -
All these are mine! I'll accept no less!
No, life, you cannot woo me with a part.
Let it be all or nothing! I can shoulder that!
I don't want happiness by halves.
Nor is half of sorrow what I want.
Yet there's a pillow I would dhare,
Where gently pressed against a cheek,
Like a helpless star, a falling star,
A ring glimmers on your hand.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko
Oh to have had abundant candles and fairy lights....
(Alas being a 14th cemtury tithe barn there were no candles allowed anywhere vaguely in the vicinity.)

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

I do not love you...

I do not love you...
I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.
I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.
I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way
that this: where I does not exist, nor you,
so close that your hand on my chest is my hand,
so close that your eyes close as I fall asleep.
Pablo Neruda
Oh to have had balloons... Hanging from the trees outside The Barn.

Persephone Secret Santa

How lovely on a bleak November day a parcel arrived for me....
Persephone Secret Santa.
On a bleak December day I opened it...

And a lovely notebook. It's perfect - blank inside which is the way I like my notebooks. I shall store it away for when my currnet quotes/ blogging thoughts notebook has finished.

And a lovely notecard.

"Hope you enjoy this one and you have a Merry Christmas."

Park Benches and Bookends.

Thank you and Merry Christmas to you.

Thank you Claire for organising Secret Santa.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Touched by an Angel

Touched by an Angel

We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train comes ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

Maya Angelou

I was never going to wear a veil. But oh how I would have loved to wear a birdcage frou frou head piece. Why didn't I? Warmth wouldn't have appreciated, or like it, and this was our wedding, not my wedding.
So here are some day dreams...


Monday, 13 December 2010

Wallis Simpson

A while ago we had a week of not used wedding passages. I decided on a winter week as we had a summer wedding - but oh how lovely to have a winter wedding. We had a country wedding yet we live in London - but oh how lovely to have experienced marrying in a city.
So the theme of this week is my imagination and planning a second wedding same man daydream.

The Confirmation

Yes, yours, my love, is the right human face.
I in my mind had waited this long,
Seeing the false and searching for the true,
Then found you as a traveller finds a place
Of welcome suddenly amid the wrong
Valleys and rocks and twisting roads. But you,
What shall I call you? A fountain in a waste,
A well of water in a country dry,
Or anything that's honest and good, an eye
That makes the whole world bright. Your open heart,
Simple with giving, gives the primal deed,
The first good world, the blossom, the blowing seed,
The hearth, the steadfast land, the wandering sea.
Not beautiful or rare in every part.
But like yourself, as they were meant to be.

Edwin Muir
An alternative dress, Wallis Simpson - no idea if it would suit me but I love it.

Julie Kim

And a real bride wearing it.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Eleven in the Morning

Oh I had such a wonderful sleep last weekend. I awoke at 10ish and about 11 Warmth made a comment about still being in bed. I promptly read him this.

'And so you're phoning me now from your bedroom?'
'I certainly am. And from my bed as well.'
It was eleven in the morning.
'You're not exactly an early bird.'
'....Do you know what time yours truly got up, my dear boy? At seven. And you dare to wonder that I'm back in bed again at eleven! Besides, it's not as though I were sleeping - I've been reading, scribbling some notes for my thesis, and looking out of the window. I always do a whole lot of things when I'm in bed. The warmth of the blankets undoubtedly spurs me into activity.' The Garden of the Finzi-Continis Giorgio Bassani

warmth of the blankets

I'm hoping for the same this weekend.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

And the minutes, the hours, the days

I've been waiting for the right time to post his poem. The right time occurred last week, waiting in the snow for a bus. I saw three in a row arrive at the same time. Whenever that happens I think of this poem and it takes my mind off the wait. I first discovered this poem whilst I was waiting metaphorically for the right bus to arrive. Thankfully he arrived and the destination was clear.

Bloody Men

Bloody men are like bloody buses-
You wait for about a year
And as soon as one approaches your stop
Two or three others appear.

You look at them flashing their indicators,
Offering you a ride.
You're trying to read the destinations,
You haven't much time to decide.

If you make a mistake, there is no turning back.
Jump off, and you'll stand there and gaze
While the cars and the taxis and lorries go by
And the minutes, the hours the days.

Wendy Cope

red bus

Monday, 6 December 2010

Red Boots On

Oh the snow.... And this poem makes me smile and seems oh so appropriate.

Red Boots On

Way down Geneva,
All along Vine,
Deeper than the snow drift
Love's eyes shine:

Mary Lou's a walking
In the winter time.

She's got

Red boots on, she's got
Red boots on,
kicking up the winter
Till the winter's gone.


Sweet light burning
In winter's flame.

She's got

Snow in her eyes, got
A tingle in her toes
And new red boots on
Wherever she goes.


May Lou's walking

In the big snow fall.

She's got

Red boots on, she's got

Red boots on, kicking up the winter

Till the winter's gone.
Lady Dragons, Sigerson Morrison, Christian Louboutin, hunter, red shoes

What will you be wearing in the snow?

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Dr Zhivago: A Love Story

So I've finished Dr. Zhivago. As you may have gathered from reading my comments on your posts I loved many parts of it. The description of nature, I love the faith and as Rachel put it so much more eloquently than me the 'soul'. I've been confused by the issue of 'translation' but have been reminded of the lesson that 'the grass isn't always greener on the other side.'

What I've found hard, and this was the same for me in another great Russian novel Anna Karenina, is the great love. But they're already married I keep thinking and feeling. In this case it's not as if his marriage wasn't happy. A part of me kept thinking 'We're lucky to find one love in life and here's Yury and Lara each have had two loves in their life!'

This passage shows he has a soul and a conscience - but what good are they if we don't change our actions?

"Yury was deceiving Tonya and what he concealed from her was becoming increasingly grave and ilicit. This was something unheard-of between them.
He worshipped Tonya. Her peace of mind meant more to him than anything in the world....
At home he felt like a criminal.....
Had he been unfaithful to her because he preferred another woman? No, he had made no comparison, no choice. He did not believe in 'free love' or in the 'right' to be carried away by his senses. To think or speak in such terms seemed to him degrading...Now he was crushed by the weight of his guilty conscience.
'What next?' he sometimes asked himself, and hoped wretchedly for some impossible, unexpected circumstance to solve his problem for him."

Part of me wonders what would have happenend if they hadn't been in the midst of civil unrest with families being mixed up, people just disappearing. How convenient for their love.

And then we read this letter from Tonya to Yury when she is about to leave for Paris.

"The whole trouble is that I love you and that you don't love me. I keep trying to discover the meaning of this judgement on me, to understand it, to see the reason for it. I look into into myself, I go over our whole life together and everything I know about myself, and I can't find the beginning , and I can't remember what it is I did and how I brought this misfortune on myself...
As for me, I love you. If only you knew how much I love you. I love all that is unusual in you, the inconvenient and as well as the covenient, and all the ordinary things which, in you, are made precious to me by being combined in an extraordinary way;
...God keep you, I must stop. They have come for the letter... O Yura Yura, my darling, my husband, my children's father, what is happening to us? Do you realise that we'll never, never see each other again?"

And my heart and soul ache for her - and I think/feel again 'Yury how can you do this?' And I think about us, the readers, are we condoning such behaviour by reading and re reading this story of deception, hurt and betrayal.

And then we get to the Conclusion and Epilogue (which to begin with I didn't understand and wondered why it was there but then grew to love it and perhaps became one of my favourite parts of the book.) Reading this passage I realised why everyone refers to Dr. Zhivago as 'the greatest love story.'

"Oh, what a love it was, how free, how new, like nothing else on earth!...
It was not out of necessity that they loved each other, 'enslaved by passion', as lovers are described. They loved each other because everything around them willed it, the trees and the clouds and the sky over their heads and the earth under their feet. Perhaps their surrounding world, the strangers they met in the street, the landscapes drawn up for them to see on their walks, the rooms in which they lived or met, were even more pleased with their love than they were themselves."

I'm still not sure how I feel about this love story. What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010


Sometimes I think this blog could be renamed 'The Carol Ann Duffy Appreciation Blog' . Her poems always fit in so perfectly with my thoughts and the seasons.


The year dwindles and glows
to December's red jewel,
my birth month.

The sky blushes,
and lays its cheek
on the sparkling fields.

Then dusk swaddles the cattle,
their silhouettes
simple as faith.

These nights are gifts,
our hands unwrapping the darkness
to see what we have.

The train rushes, ecstatic,
to where you are,
my bright star.

Carol Ann Duffy

red jewel

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

The Month of November

Reading Dr. Zhivago as part of a group read. Then starting a new novel The Garden of the Finzi-Continis by Giorgio Bassani- which was also a translation!
Films watched Man on Wire and Gran Torino. Loved them both.

A stressful journey to friends in Sevenoaks where we managed to take the wrong road not once but twice and arrived appallingly late. Thank goodness we were staying the night.
Peppermint cold walks around Honor Oak and Forest Hill.
Meeting dear printmaking friends at The National Cafe.
Drinks and a meal at The Old Vic.
Enjoying being in a new part of London with different places to explore. Mooching in Shoreditch. Shopping at Caravan, eating in Albion cafe and then wandering to Spitalfields. Catching the first scent of mulled wine and then spying Pret's turkey and stuffing sandwiches.
Remembrence day service with Mama and Papa Warmth. Walking through the field of soldiers, hearing the chimes of Big Ben and feeling the boom of the guns as the two minute silence is observed.
Catching a stinky cold.
Eid Mubarak and that means a day off. A leisurely morning and then meeting friends for lunch.
Rekindling my love for Browns. A good Friday night meet up.
A visit to Gaugin at Tate Modern. I liked it but I didn't love Gaugin as much as I'd presumed I would.

Still life with peonies

Starting the Christmas shopping - in making Christmas cards, shopping on the high street, at Cockpit Arts and on the internet. Buying my Persephone Secret Santa - well living in london i had to go to the shop and then for a cupcake at Beas.
Finding this winter's dress, a cosy shrug like cardigan from Topshop and new winter pj's.
Finally spending my Space Nk gift voucher from my old job on Annick Goutal Grand Amour.
A little spend in Topshop on their make up. Especially loving 'Grunge' nail varnish. Continuing the varnish theme. Liking Chanel Rose Confidentiel

Beginning Christmas preparations. We're hosting the Warmth family Christmas gathering on the 27th December. Cook books open..... I want to bake cupcakes galore.

And then the snow came...

Monday, 29 November 2010

Seasonal Roar

"Imagine a morning in late November. A coming of winter morning... Consider the kitchen of a spreading old house in a country town. A great black stove is its main feature; but there is also a big round table and a fireplace with two rocking chairs placed in front of it. Just today the fireplace commenced its seasonal roar...
It's always the same: a morning arrives in November, and my friend, as though officially inaugurating the Christmas time of year that exhilarates her imagination and fuels the blaze of her heart, announces: 'It's fruitcake weather! Fetch our buggy. Help me find my hat.' Truman Capote A Christmas Memory


Friday, 26 November 2010

I can be alone

I'm not sure if always being with Twin when growing up meant that I wasn't used to being alone. I know as a young adult that I didn't need to have much time by myself. We change though. Now I need time to be just me, alone. I need silence too. I think when I first read this poem I couldn't understand it, and didn't think I would ever understand it, but now I do.

I can be alone,
I know how to be alone.

There is a tacit understanding between my pencils
and the trees outside;
between the rain
and my luminous hair.

The tea is boiling:
my golden zone,
my pure burning amber.

I can be alone,
I know how to be alone.
By tea-light
I write.

Nina Cassian
(Tr from Romanian by
Eva Feiler and nina Cassian)


How about you?

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Refuge and Shelter

"The garden is the place I go to for refuge and shelter, not the house..... out there blessings crowd round me at every step - it is there that I am sorry for the unkindness in me, for those selfish thoughts that are so much worse than they feel, it is there that all my sins and silliness are forgiven, there that I feel protected and at home, and every flower and weed is a friend and every tree a lover. When I have been vexed I run out to them for comfort, and when angry without just cause, it is there that I find absolution.' Elizabeth von Arnim Elizabeth and her English Garden


Where do you go for refuge and shelter?