Monday, 31 May 2010

The Month of May

A trip to Cambridge to cook for dear friends.
Dim Sum, The National Portrait Gallery, The Bounty Hunter (appalling).
General Election and The Coalition.
Persephone Reading Week - Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary by Ruby Ferguson, finding new blogs, adding books to be read list.
Raspberry, Yoghurt and Orange muffins by The Cookie Girl - delicious and great icing.
Henry Moore at Tate Britain
One Fine Day by Mollie Hunter Downes
Varnished - fingernails - Opi Over the Taupe oooh I did like it, toes Essie Tomboy No More. A return to A list on my toes and Big Spender on my fingernails. (I think this is the shade I wore for my hen nght last year. It's a little too pink for every day.
Tiddlywink evening with food and wine.
Brunch in Browns
A balmy and warm weekend sitting in local pub gardens drinking chilled rose wine.... It felt like summer had arrived.
Fit Flops but need to wear them in... Perfect black sandals from Fenwick - I love them.
Eve Lom face mask - made my skin feel soooo lovely.
Celebrating Dad's birthday.
Baking his birthday cake - Nigella's Strawberry Meringue Cake - mmm may become The Cake of Summer 2010.

The British Isles

A Bank Holiday quote for today. One of Laura's daydreams in One Fine Day is to take her daughter away for the day to the seaside. To run away from all their responsibilities.
'The cold English sea - she followed it in her imagination, all blue for once to-day, lapping quietly round the coast, sucking the conrete blocks which had been going to play Canute to the invader, drawing a wrinkle of silk over the long sands where pink-toed children ran brandishing starfish by a rough pink ray,
washing a deeper, more southern purple and indigo round the black rocks of St. Pol, then up the melancholy gull-haunted estuaries and past the ruined castle on the grey point, round the farthest lonely islands with the names like wild poetry,

running up in gentle wavelets on shingle above which the Regency houses in need of paint turned peeling faces towards the great land mass of Europe, sighing against the chalk cliffs, and finally tying it's girdle around the island's green waist with that knot of shining broad ribbon. Mollie Panter-Downes One Fine Day

Where's your favourite patch of sea?

Saturday, 29 May 2010

My Hair Hurts

I can't quote this exactly but it's in Plum Sykes' book 'Bergdorf Blondes', and goes to prove that we gain something from the trashiest books we read. She wakes up one morning with a hangover and proclaims 'My hair hurts, my nails hurt.' I often think of this the morning after a 'should have drunk more water/eaten/ just said no to that last drink or two' good night out.
This is how I feel this morning....
I think I'll just go back and lie down before cleaning the flat and baking Dad's birthday cake...


Post script: Here is the actual quote.

'Oooo-www!!! My head was hurting. My nails were agony. Even my hair was hurting.'

Friday, 28 May 2010

Little poems of cakes.

One Fine Day - Laura is having a cup of tea and cake in her local cafe. There is only seed cake left. 'toothsome ghosts of food kept floating back from the past'. She is prompted to reminisce on her honeymoon travels in Europe. She remembers eating 'delicious little poems of cakes'. In the age of austerity she's now in she can all but daydream of that time... So, a delightful line and one written for a sunny Friday afternoon.

Which 'little poem of cake' will you choose?

source, source, source, source

Thursday, 27 May 2010

And his answer was 'I do'.

His hello was the end of her endings,
Her laugh was their first step down the aisle.
His hand would be hers to hold forever,
His forever was as simple as her smile.

An ocean couldn’t prevent it.
A New York minute wouldn’t let it pass.
Does the universe decide for us,
Which love will fade and which will last.

He said she was what was missing.
She said she instantly new.
She was a question to be answered.
And his answer was “I do.”


You all know why I've posted this poem today. I like Sex and The City. I was their age. They were single, in and out of love, wanting to be with someone and so was I. I didn't feel that I was that different, even if most of my friends were getting married. I enjoyed wondering what they'd be wearing that episode. Could I ever imagine myself wearing any of their outfits? Most of all I enjoyed the friendships. My friends are so important to me. Even though I have Warmth I still need my girlfriends. I love meeting up together, sharing, drinking, eating, shopping, laughing and being there when we need comfort. I feel so outrageously fortunate to have both in my life.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

In The Garden

The descriptions of the gardens, the flowers, the countryside in One Fine Day are sown throughout the book. Here are some of my favourite...
'The flowers rampaged and ate each other, red-hot poker devouring lily, aster swallowing bergamot, rose gulping jasmine.'

' pick a bunch of flowers... short heads of poppy, anchusa, raspberry-coloured sweet cicelys, a pansy, two pinks. Bunched tightly together they looked charming.'

'The cottage gardens were bright pocket handkerchiefs embroidered with rice-paper crinkled poppy, peppery lupin, stout rose and Canterbury bell.'

'...spires of rose and yellow, patches of blue and velvet maroon with dark eyes from which... the wild convolvulus hung its white trumpet and the thistle thrust a purple rosette four steely feet into the air.'

'The syringa... hung white and gold in the sun's warmth, lolling, showering scent and golden powder...'

'... there a rakish tuft on a slender spray of pink and palerpink dog-rose.'

'seeing Laura in a print dress picking extraordinary blue and flame-pink trumpet shaped flowers from a white picket fence.'
There's a metaphore somewhere about the relationship in how they view their lives and how nature blossoms, grows and quite often it's all out of our control....
source, source, source, source, source, source, source

Monday, 24 May 2010

One Fine Day

After our glorious sunny weekend it seems apt to be posting this today. When reading this novel the English summer seemed a life time away, but I almost felt like re reading it this weekend as the weather so fitted the weather of One fine Day. It's a short and sweet book which I really enjoyed and found uplifting.
The two words which come to mind when thinking about this book are 'daydreaming' and 'escaping'. Laura goes about her daily life reflecting and reminiscing. To a time before marriage and the war, to during the war, on their life today and to where they might go tomorrow. Laura is aware of her part in society and that her 'easier sort of life has come to an end.' She now has to look after their daughter, whom she dearly loves, shop, cook, wash up. These two passages show some of her feelings to her home.

'Now, said the house to Laura, we are alone together. Now I am yours again...She knew all her house's little voices as she had never done in the old days when there had been more people under her roof.'

' day is a feeble woman's day following a domestic chalk line, bound to the tyranny of my house with its voices saying, Clean me, polish me, save me from the spider...It is so long since I measured out a day for myself and said, This is mine, I shall be alone.'

As the story unravels the glimpse at the marriage of Laura and Stephen is touching - in the end I felt that they were right for each other. Her fondness for her daughter. At the end I had the feeling that things would be alright. They would manage. And that would because of their tight knit family unit of three.

My favourite sentence in the novel is about half way through. All the strain of the war and now keeping house means Laura feels she's aged and this is summed up so beautifully when Laura describes the handsome young whom she's asking to garden for them looking at her

'He looked at her amiably, as though she was a nice sofa... She had noticed it young men looked at you as though you were a nice sofa, an article of furniture which they would never be desirous of acquiring.'

Never mind when I am old I shall wear purple. When I am old I shall be a chaise longue...

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Wedding Memories

'Memories do not come leaping to order...they are evoked by a smell, a glimpse of colour, a tone of voice, a note of music.' Mary Wesley The Vacillations of Poppy Carew

Summer is coming and with it the memories of last summer. The preparations for our wedding, our marriage, our life together. And they're not leaping to order.
The scent of the sun reminds me of the day.

The clothes remind of preparing and honeymoon. Summer shoes the places I walked to.


The perfume I was given as a gift reminds me of the preparations. Coco Mademoiselle reminds me of the day.


There might be a few wedding memory posts coming up. Well I do have all the fantastic passages we knew, found and didn't use.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Learning to read you...

Saturday's Carol Ann Duffy poem prompted me to seek out this poem by U.A. Fanthorpe. It's about a couple who've been together for a long time but are still learning to read each other. I found it through a great anthology 101 Happy Poems edited by Wendy Cope.

7301 U.A. Fanthrope
Learning to read you, twenty years ago.
Over the pub lunch cheese-and-onion rolls.

The rest of our lives, the rest of our lives
Doing perfectly ordinary things together - riding

In buses, walking in Sainsbury's, sitting
In pubs eating cheese-and-onion rolls.

All those tomorrows. Now twenty years after.
We've had seventy-three hundred of them, and

(If your arithmatic's is right, and our luck) we may
Fairly reckon on seventy-three hundred more.

I hold them crammed in my arms, colossal crops
Of shining tomorrows that may never happen,

But may they! Still learning to read you,
To hear what it is you're saying, to master the code.

Thursday, 20 May 2010


Out for supper to celebrate Mama Warmth's birthday. Conversation turned to our temperaments. How we react, who we inherit our repsonses from. A great conversation, especially as we're family but haven't known each other for years and years so are still getting to know each other. Me? I cry. Somehow others often find crying harder than a temper. I used to think that I didn't get angry. But then I realised that crying is my way of showing it. And always how does the other person respond? Hence why this quotation was recorded.

'Shit, he thinks. She's working herself up. Now she'll cry. She'll cry and I'll sit here like a lump, and once women start crying there's no way to make them stop.' Margaret Atwood The Blind Assassin

How do you express your emotions?
Image 1, 2 3

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Where do you breakfast?

'You know those days when you've got the mean reds?'
'Same as the blues?'
'No' she said slowly. 'No, the blues are because you're getting fat or maybe it's been raining too long. You're sad that's all. But the mean reds are horrible. You're afraid and you sweat like hell, but you don't know what you're afraid of...'
'What I've found does the most good is just to get into a taxi and go to Tiffany's.' Truman Capote Breakfast at Tiffany's
Where do you go when you've got the mean reds, or hopefully just the blues?

Do you enter the kitchen and bake?

A lie in the bath, perhaps with a book?

A stroll and sit in the open air?

A scent of Jo Malone?
A browse in your favourite book shop?

Or somewhere else?

Monday, 17 May 2010


'It was a tradition between them that they should never be too tired for anything, and they found it it made the days better on the whole.' F. Scott Fitzgerald Tender is the Night
This is my kind of tradition and explains the busy, and very wonderful weekend we've just had. This looks like a party not to be too tired for.

And here's Hotel Eden Roc, where some of this novel is set. Oh to imagine the parties there.

How was your weekend?

Saturday, 15 May 2010


We haven't had a poem for a while. So today it's my favourite lines from
Tea by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy.
I like pouring your tea, lifting
the heavy pot, and tipping it up,
so the fragrant liquid steams in your china cup.

I like the questions - sugar? milk? -
and the answers I don't know by heart, yet,
Jasmine, Gunpowder, Assam, Earl Grey, Ceylon,
I love tea's names. Which tea would you like? I say,
but it's any tea, for you, please, any time of day,
and I am your lover, smitten, straining your tea.
My favourite line?
and the answers I don't know by heart, yet,
And I think it's the word 'yet' the confidence that we will know our lovers answers to that and so many other questions.


Friday, 14 May 2010

Mad Men

We've started watching Mad Men. I'm loving it. Warmth is dipping in and out of it. One of my colleagues loves it because 'they drink whisky all day'.
When I saw the new Prada prints collection - oh my oh my.
Now which character would choose which dress?


Or more importantly which dress would you choose?

Thursday, 13 May 2010

A Whirlpool of Kissing

'There was such an incredible logic to kissing, such a metal-to-magnet pull between two people that it was a wonder that they found the strength to prevent themselves from succumbing every second. Rightfully, the world should be a whirlpool of kissing into which we sank and never found the strength to rise up again.' Ann Patchett Bel Canto

from here to eternity



Wednesday, 12 May 2010

The Journey a Book Takes You....

I've been mulling this over for a while...

It started when reading Marie Antoinette The Journey, which I loved. As it focused purely on her perspective it made me want to know more about the French Revolution and what happened next. This prompted me to begin re-reading A Tale of Two Cities. Isn't it wonderful how a book can ignite an interest to read more about/around the subject. Then on holiday I read The Return by Victoria Hislop. It was good for reading by the pool but not good enough to lug home again. Anyway, even though I didn't rate the book it made me feel I should know more about the Spanish Civil War. Next time I'm at my parents maybe I will remember to take down from my teenage bookshelf Laurie Lee 'When I walked out one midsummer morning'. This then reminded me of my enjoyment of Dickens. Yes he'd been read at school but it was through watching Great Expectations with Gwyneth Paltrow. Maybe not the best film but it sparked an interest and led to Dickens being one of my favourite authors.
My thoughts aren't that clear but it's something about the journey, the link between books. How we map the thought process, the threads of thinking between choosing books.
Two questions:
What's been your best book journey?
Which novels would you recommend to find out more about the French Revolution or the Spanish Civil War? (I write novels but if you think of a great non fiction to read then do share.)

Monday, 10 May 2010


The Peony season is here. Hurrah! and they remind me of this quotation. I read this novel when on holiday in South Africa. I remember crying many times when reading it. I found it a difficult read, I think it was especially reading it in the country I was journeying in at the time and all my mixed emotions and thoughts of being there. Have you read it? What are your memories of the novel?
'He [God] must have lacked faith in mankinds follow through capabilities, on the day He created flowers.' Barbara Kingsolver The Poisonwood Bible




Sunday, 9 May 2010

This matter of parenthood

Sorry, this is long but I hope you think it's worth it.
'...we approach this matter of parenthood with a kind of fascinated reluctance. In a way the idea certainly attracts us, and though we resent it being put in that way, we have every intention of ultimately doing our duty... But not just yet, if you see what we mean. For after something like a quarter of a century when we have incessantly wanted it to be next week, we have suddenly reached a stage where all this impatience has left us. We want Time to stand still now; we have found what we have been looking for, and intuition tells us to avoid any experiment which will so inevitably start him off again. We have an impression, too, that everyone is watching us; that they are expecting us to have a baby, and that they won't leave us alone until we do. This puts our backs up. What has it got to do, we ask, with anyone except ourselves? We know perfectly well what we're up to, and we're not going to be hustled by any amounts of hints or questions. It is, we repeat, entirely our own affair.' Denis Mackail Greenery Street

Oh how true this is - and will it ever change? Will we ever stop trying to hurry life on for others? We meet someone and it's 'Is this the one?' We stay together and we're asked 'When will you get married?' I couldn't believe how soon after the wedding the question of 'children' is asked. And then I guess when you have one child you're asked about others. What will be will be.
And there ends Persephone quotes. I'm looking forward to next year already.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

First, magical year

'Meanwhile it is the first, magical year. Everyday, every hour almost has its separate thrill. Everything is new, everything is exciting, and every excitement is doubled by the fact it is shared.' Denis Mackail Greenery Street

source unknown


Friday, 7 May 2010

Fonder and Fonder

'Whatever happens,' she says, 'please make us fonder and fonder of each other - forever and ever.' Does that sound mistrustful? It isn't really; but one should never make the mistake of asking for less than one hopes, and means to get.' Denis Mackail Greenery Street

Endpaper Greenery Street


One of my lovely hen gifts was Greenery Street by Denis Mackail. About a couples first year of marriage. So to get us in the mood some images of 1920's inspired wedding style...


I read it on honeymoon and it really was a reading a book at the right time in your life. Being on honeymoon thinking 'Can people see we're newly married? On our honeymoon?' and then I read this....

'I wonder if I shall ever feel as married as she looks.' Denis Mackail Greenery Street

and it summed up how I felt...

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary

This is my first attempt at a book review. So here goes. Firstly I loved this book. It delighted, surprised and gave me so much more than I thought it would. I chose it because it was the Persephone that interested me most, from the small selection in the local book shop.
I knew I'd like it right from the start. Each chapter begins with a passage and I love books that do that.
One of the main characters is the house, Keepsfield.
'It's more than a mansion - it's Buckingham Palace whitened, and in a better setting.'
Lady Rose is full of love, imagination and excitement. For life. And for Scotland.
'I'm so happy. I'm all little bubbles inside.' Drinking life up.
'My eyes ached with trying to see everything at once and not miss anything.' she writes when visiting London.
But those around her don't share her vitality.
'Enthusiasm is so tiring, Rose, and I'm afraid it may give you wrinkles.' Thankfully she has an aunt who when asked by Rose if it is a bad thing to have an imagination responds.
'A good thing. You enjoy everything so much more. It gives you so many worlds to live in; you skip lightly out of one into another. From star to star; comet-like.'
Lady Rose and her friends are presented in court with their finery and high spirits. Wondering what they're eating. 'Perhaps it is pate of peacock' You just know how sumptious everything must have been. Daydreaming who they may marry. Discussing meeting a man like Mr Darcy...

The story is hinged around three tourists who are visiting Keepsfield. I like them, especially when one says as she's asked to pose for her photograph.
'That background, it doesn't belong to us. Why should we force ourselves into it, just so that we can have some pictures to show our friends at home of our smug little selves in the midst of unsuitable magnificance? I won't do it.'
And that's why Persephone books are great. Suddenly a sentence reaches out and grabs you., right when you're not expecting it.
It's a book of flashbacks that tell the story. And oh how I loved how Time was talked about to wend you back...
'Somewhere hidden away in the dusty portfolio of Time was a picture which fitted here... So old Time seized his book and began turning back the pages, ten, twenty at a time - more than seventy years of yellow leaves.'

It's election day here and this is what I'd scheduled to post, before finishing this novel.
Have you voted? When was the book you're reading written? Would your heroine have been able to vote? Would the authoress have been able to vote? She may have written a book, which had been published but just think. In 1918 women over 30 could vote and it wasn't until 1928 that the Equal Franchise Act meant women and men had the same right. So, Ruby Ferguson, who wrote Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary, was at Oxford University but unable to vote. It would have been unthinkable for Lady Rose.
Now I've finished Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary today seems the right day to post my review. Why? For passages like this, from Rose's school friend.
'I mean that we aren't expected to want to live, or to do things, or achieve things. We haven't to have any views or aspirations; and ideas are improper and dangerous. ...If I had my way women should be free to do the same things as men; come and go as they wished, and read and talk, and be doctors and lawyers, and financiers, and Members of Parliament, and newspaper writers. Wouldn't that be wonderful?'
And then later about Lady Rose herself
'She had cried on her bed all the afternoon, realizing bitterly that in 1874 married women had no rights, even if they were countesses.'
These are women with thoughts, imaginations, desires and they're not able to fulfill them. They stay as dreams...
We, or maybe it's just me, start reading these period novels and wish to be Lady Rose, in her vast house, wearing her amazing dresses. However, as her story unravels it brings a shiver down my spine. How could I have wanted her life? The repression? The Rules? Spoken and Unspoken? I want my life. Yes it took time to meet Warmth but we met each other and fell in love, it wasn't arranged for us.

I shall write no more for fear of giving the story away. Our visitors to Keepsfield want more. They think the end of the story is 'vague and disappointing' and are told.
'But in real life things go like that. Our stories have no ending. We come into the light for a little while, and then we move into the shadows and nobody sees us any more.' For us the reader there is more. But do we dare read on? As Ruby Ferguson writes before the final chapter.
'If any reader feels that this is a fitting place to make an end he can conveniently do so. ...A story is not told unless it is told in its entirety; but that is no reason for forcing it whole upon a reader with a literary conscience. You may read no more; but if you must, well, then, you must.'

Thank you Claire and Verity for organising this week.
I've gained so so much from it.
Happy Living our own life. Happy Daydreaming,
Relish and Enjoy our freedom to vote.
Happy Persephone Week to you all

Wednesday, 5 May 2010


'It would always be like this now. Secure. Never again that feeling of solitude in a crowd that made one sometimes begin to think furtively of escape. It was fun to be among people with him and lovely to leave them afterwards and go out alone together.' Monica Dickens Mariana

Will this week turn into an introspection week? I can go to parties alone. I like meeting new people. I had gotten a little weary of always being 'by myself' even if you've gone with frineds. I love going to parties with Warmth. It feels like the best of both worlds. To be out and about. Socialising. Laughing. Talking. Secure. We leave together.


Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Kept a bit of myself back

'It's odd, but all through everything it's as if I'd known about you. I always kept a bit of myself back, because I knew that it wasn't the ultimate thing - that I still had to find you.' ...I always knew God had something special up his sleeve. There I was, going round with a whole lot of love to unload on to you, and I dumped it on to one or two of the wrong people on the way, by mistake, that's all.' Monica Dickens Mariana

I read this novel on a great sunny summer holiday with two close girlfriends. It was when I was still hoping, waiting for 'the ultimate thing'. It summed up how I felt and how I'd lived. Keeping 'a bit of myself back'. Somehow I knew they didn't love me so therefore I couldn't give myself in total and utter love to them.
I imagined myself sitting under a fabulous sun hat on a great sunlounger and hopefully sipping on champagne from huge saucers.

Monday, 3 May 2010

The Jigsaw

'Life was a jigsaw, but if you tried to fit the pieces together yourself, you generally got them wrong... She had thought that was the pattern the pieces made. But it had been like trying to force two pieces together that didn't quite fit, and then, suddenly, the jigsaw had been done, in quite a different way, by other hands.' Monica Dickens Mariana

Endpaper from Mariana

Another quote that links to so many others about how we journey through life. Reading helps us make sense of life, explore other people's lifes for size and hopefully decide that ours is the best one for me right here, right now. Reading shows how throughout time, across generations and continents, we've been puzzling over the journey. The journey and opportunities will change but the puzzling won't.

Persephone Reading Week

So along at The B Files and Paperback Reader a Persephone Reading Week has been organised. The book I've chosen is Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary by Ruby Ferguson. I've planned a week of Persephone quotes, a little like Nancy Mitford Week in February, in this little blog space.
The quotes are in the order which I read the books. My first thought.
My first Persephone book was, like many others before me, 'Miss Pettigrew Lives for the Day' which I did love and have enjoyed re-reading, (it's one of my go-to books when I'm ill.) However, I have no favourite passages to share from it. Do you find that happens you can love a book but no passages speak out and sometimes don't really enjoy the story but lots of passages speak to you?
The order of the quotes, even though across two books (Mariana and Greenery Street) just happen to make a story. A story of hoping to meet love, then meeting love, then the first flush of marriage and then the thought of what your joint future holds together - will you grow as a unit?
Anyway enough of me onto the quotes.

Endpaper from Lady Rose and Mrs Memmary

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Eat Me!

I've treated myself to a new cookery book - Eat Me by Cookie Girl.

Cookery books are a little like clothes and make up. If I haven't bought one for a while I start itching. It had been displayed in Books for Cooks and I'd admired. I know I then read about it on a blog, I can't for the life of me remember which one - I want to go back and say 'Thank you' too.

I'm excited about this new book and shall bake something for a meeting next week but there is one disappointment. This cookery book has no ribbons as bookmarks at all. Now if there are any cookery book publishers out there I have a suggestion, a plea, an idea... Thank you to those of you who put ribbons in to bookmark a page but frankly I need more than one so could we maybe have three, four, five? Just imagine how pretty it would look in this book either different shades of pink or maybe lime and pink together?

Thank you for listening.


Happy Baking x