Monday, 31 January 2011

The Month of January

New Year's Day Having been abstemious last night we met bil and sil (Warmth's brother and his wife) for drinks around Charlotte Street. Ending with food at DimT and then we (sil and I) managed to persuade the boys to have a cocktail at The Charlotte Street Hotel.
Sunday lunch at The Honor Oak. I swore no more eating after that....
Taking down the Christmas tree - as they say in High Society 'My she was ya.'
Supper with a dear friend at Pizza East. I wasn't sure of my pizza choice but the chocolate and salted caramel tart - oh my worth a revisit for that alone...
Mooching with a dear friend in Marylebone High Street. delicious brunch at Cafe Luc, great book buying at the Oxfam shop and best of all a good catch up.
Off to Greenwich Picture House to see Of Gods and Men. It is wonderful.
Exploring Canary Wharf for shopping - hmm not sure about it. Think I'll stick to One New Change.
Celebrating Papa Warmth's birthday with the Warmth family annual 'Card of the Year Competition.'
Brunch with dear friends expecting their first baby any time...
My first attendance at a new book club.
Venturing up to Islington for The London Art Fair - oh to have thousands of pounds to buy art, art and more art. Then a delcious thai and catch up.
Another wonderful film watched - Julie and Julia. We both loved it and now having a big love of all things cooking and Julia Childs. Followed the next night by the Baader-Meinhof Complex. Two very different films in one weekend.
Great end of sale shopping in Anthropologie.
Birthday supper for a dear friend at Bedford and Strand.
Saturday lunch with great friends who have now moved back to London.
Finally managed to see The King's Speech. Absolutely loved it.

Baking Hummingbird Nutty Apple Loaf for dear friends who are just about to have a baby...
Books read - Started the year with real trash - My Last Duchess by Daisy Goodwin, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie Muriel Spark. For the wonderful Virago reading week - Union Street by Pat Barker, Frost in May by Antonia Fraser. A House in the Country by Jocelyn Playfair, beginning to think about Persephone Reading Weekend. This and Union Street were both bought at the Oxfam book shop.

The first daffodils were bought.


Here's to February and an abundance of daffodils.

Friday, 28 January 2011


After yesterday's post on painful love let's end Virago Week with
our hope for, our experience of a stronger love.

'Christopher loved her with the passion of youth, of imagination, of poetry, of all the fresh beginnings of wonder and worship that have been since Love first lit his torch and made in the darkness a great light.'
Elizabeth von Arnim Love


Thank you Carolyn and Rachel for hosting Virago Reading week. I've really enjoyed it.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Scarcely Breathing

Virago celebrates love and strong, good relationships yet they also aren't afraid to look at when relationships aren't quite how we hope. Be they between lovers

'At first I clutched at anything I thought might hold together the torn and tearing garment of our relationship; but while I snatched the edges together with a comfort or a promise to myself in one place, the seams burst, the thread raveled out somewhere else. So in the end I did what so many other women, all through time have done in situations beyond them. I became afraid to move inside that garment. It was torn in so many places, that the seams strained so frailly everywhere, that it seemed only by keeping quite still, scarcely breathing, would it hold together.' Nadine Gordimer The Lying Days

or family

'When her mother seemed to have finished, she put down the half-eaten slice of bread and made towards the door. She had to pass her mother to get to it. They looked at each other. Each at that moment expected, and perhaps wanted, an embrace.' Pat Barker Union Street


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Tilted saucers filled with flowers

Ah the frippery side of Virago - but yet always surrounded and linked to deeper thoughts and feelings.

'Mrs Blenkinsop at once replies that, for her part, she has never given up all those little feminine touches that make All the Difference. A ribbon here, a flower there.' E.M. Delafield The Diary of a Provincial Lady


'How sweet of you,' she had said, 'but darling, I don't wear hats any more, except on Sunday. And I've got my -'
'No,' he said firmly, 'I shall buy you a new hat...'
And to-day, on his way to lunch with someone at Boodle's, he had kept a sharp eye open for women wearing pretty hats. Extraordinary things they were, he thought, like tilted saucers filled with flowers...' Mollie Panter-Downes One Fine Day


Hoping you have a 'tilted saucers filled with flowers' day.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

The Edible Woman

So after yesterday's quote from sixteen year old me. These two Virago quotes about how we change seem appropriate.

'It was one thing to be admired because one was lovely, and quite another thing to be admired because one was still so lovely. She did not belong to the sort of woman who, half-way through her life, can change her manner and inaugarate a new existence;' Vita Sackville-West The Edwardians 1930

'Whatever was going to happen to Clara had already happened: she had turned into what she was going to be... She only wanted to know what she was becoming, what direction she was taking, so she could be prepared.' Margaret Atwood The Edible Woman 1969

I've mentioned before that many of the quotes I save refer to travelling through life. Do we stay the same, how do we change? I've changed alot since I was sixteen yet yesterday's quote still strikes a chord with me.
Virago, or indeed books in general, speak to the teenager, the young adult, the adult and journey with us as we mature and beyond.

Which Virago has travelled with you through your changing life?

Monday, 24 January 2011

Little Rays of Light

I think that this, apart from Jane Austen, was probably my first Virago. This quote is on page four of my original book of quotes, so probably around the time I was 16... This passage spoke to me then and speaks to me now...

'However dark things may seem little rays of light and understanding will break through. Perhaps this is all there will ever be, all we have the right to expect. But so long as we are open to receive them that is all that matters. Whatever happens we must never shrug our shoulders and say
"Well, I had such dreams and nothing came of them, but things haven't been so bad, I've got along somehow."
You must never do that to yourself. Delve into your despair and rage against it, rather than that. But never subscribe to the littleness of life.' Mary Hocking Welcome Strangers.

rays of light

Aren't Virago novels all about not 'subscribing to the littleness of life', whatever that may mean for our situation?

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Virago Reading Week

Thank you Rachel and Carolyn for organising this week. It's prompted me to revisit the Viragos I've read and to seek out new ones. Carolyn's list had me searching through my memory... and has prompted this post.

Welcome Strangers by Mary Hocking and The Edwardians by Vita Sackville-West were teenage read. Oh how we loved Knole, trying to imagine living there but not taking on the knowledge that we, as girls, could only have married into it, not inherited it. Elizabeth von Arnim The Enchanted April was read, watched and then re read. Other Elizabeth von Arnim novels have peppered my reads since. There's a book that's a Virago and a Persephone, Round about a pound a week by Maud Pember Reeves. I'm waiting for Persephone Reading weekend to read it. Seeing the title in Perspehone triggered something in my distant memory. A book mentioned during my degree, I have handwritten lecture notes on it, and so it feels fitting to read. Another Virago relating to The University Years Stevie Smith's Novel on Yellow Paper. I loved her poems so much I wanted to read a novel. Dodie Smith I Capture the Castle I know I've said it before but oh so glad I didn't read it until my mid twenties - it would have taken on too much importance in our teenage minds. 84 Charing Cross Road I've already read it twice but writing this makes me feel that I should perhaps read it again.
Edith Wharton The House of Mirth enters the young woman living in London phase in my life. The Edible Woman by Margaret Atwood, I had a bit of an Atwood phase having devoured Blind Assassin. Nadine Gordimer's The Lying Days helped me make sense of my travels around South Africa and of being a young woman in the turmoils of love. I keep meaning to read another of her novels... One Fine Day by Mollie Panter-Downes perhaps my favourite book of last year and definately one that prompted many posts.
My most recent reads, for this week. Union Street by Pat Barker to challenge me and not glide into comfortable, covetable domesticity. I so enjoyed this book - my favourite character was Alice Bell and it made me wonder if her thoughts are the thoughts trapped in my very frail 96 year old grandmother's mind. I'm currently reading Frost in May - a book I've been wanting to read for a very long time and lo andbehold found a pristine copy in the Forest Hill Red Cross Shop last month.

So, for next week. I had too many quotes for one per day and whilst mulling over the books I felt they fitted into themes. Themes that in my eyes sum up Virago. I hope they show the breadth of Virago for our daydreams, emotions and realities.

Happy Virago Reading Week

Friday, 21 January 2011


Just beacause it's Friday and nearly the end of January.
Seeing this image at the Dior Illustrated exhibition instantly made me think of this poem.
Some men never think of it.
You did. You'd come along
And say you'd nearly bought me flowers
But something had gone wrong
It made me smile and hug you then.
Now I can only smile.
But, look, the flowers you nearly brought
Have lasted all this while.
Wendy Cope

Miss Dior 1971

It was a small exhibiton but it prompted many thoughts.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Different Scents

I've joined a new book club, friends from printmaking invited me. Tonight we're discussing The Glass Room by Simon Mawer
This is my favourite quote from the book.

'Love seems a relative quality, not a unitary thing that can exist independent of an object. Love for, love of, never just love. There are different grades of love, different shades of love, different scents and tastes of love. It is not like happiness or misery, qualities that seem dull and limited. Love is limitless, she feels. You can love one person one way and another person another way and your store of love, all the different loves, is never diminished.' Simon Mawer The Glass Room


Tuesday, 18 January 2011

A Partnership of Delight

Four years ago today Warmth and I had our first date...

'In the weeks that followed, Molly walked into another life. There was then, and there was now. Her entire past self seemed like someone else. a person who had been fine, who had been content enough, but also quite ignorant, who did not know. Now, she was the person who knew, who knew how it was to be one of two, half of a partnership of delight, who knew the exquisite pleasure of anticipating the phone call, the uprush of joy when you saw him coming down the street or stepping off a train, or looking at you from the bed.' Penelope Lively Consequences

are so happy

Friday, 14 January 2011

Six O'clock Feeling

I've just finished reading The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

'and there was suddenly a six-o'clock feeling in the house.' Muriel Spark The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

What's the six o'clock feeling in your house today?

Skipping in the door?

To sink into a hot bath?

Dressing up to go out?

Getting ready to eat with friends?

A cup of tea from a stylish yet hearty cup and saucer?

skipping, bath time,dressing , eating cornish red

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Warm and Human

Visiting the Rene Grau Dior Illustrations reminded me of Mrs Harris and her quest for Dior.

'It would not, it would never be the same again. But then neither would she.
For it had not been a dress she had bought so much as an adventure and an experience that would last her to the end of her days. She would never again feel lonely, or unwanted. She had ventured to a foreign country and a foreign people.... She had found them to be warm and human, men and women to whom human love and understanding was a mainspring of life. They had made her feel that they loved her for herself.' Paul Gallico Mrs Harris Goes To Paris


So today's post was planned just in case yesterday was a 'certain breed of Tuesdays'. We may need something to make us smile today.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

A breed of Tuesday in January

Hoping today bucks this trend but if it's anything like last Tuesday...

'In England letter-boxes do not jam with snow. Rarely does one see a squirrel tremble... This is because it is never really very cold in England. It is drizzly and the wind will blow; hail happens, and there is a breed of Tuesdays in January in which time creeps and no light comes and the air is full of water and nobody really loves anybody but still a decent jumper and a waxen jacket lined with wool is sufficient for every weather England's got to give.' Zadie Smith On Beauty


Friday, 7 January 2011

The Twinkling of an Eye

When Rachel wrote about how she was 'slowly making my way through' Gilead, as she was relishing it so much, I was prompted to find my copy with all its turned down pages.

'...but it's your existence I love you for, mainly. Existence seems to me now the most remarkable thing that could ever be imagined. I'm about to put on imperishability. In an instant, in the twinkling of an eye.
The twinkling of an eye. That is the most wonderful expression. I've thought from time to time it was the best thing in life, that little incandescence you see in people when the charm of a thing strikes them, or the humour of it.' Marilynne Robinson Gilead


Do go and read Rachel's brilliant review.
Thankyou for reminding me to re open the book and read my favourite passages again.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Why not make the most of being a girl?

Reviewing this Christmas with mum and we remembered the lovely sale shopping trips we used to have. We had them for many years, pre Warmth, when the time inbetween Christmas and New Year can sometimes seem slow. This quote sprung to mind, although Polly was a great deal younger than me when Aunt Sadie said this to her.

'...but since you have the whole of your life before you as a married woman why not make the most of being a girl? You'll never be one again.' Nancy Mitford Love in a Cold Cimate

Diorissimo 1956

This was one of my favourite images from the Rene Graus Dior Ilustrations exhibition. It felt appropriate in this post seeing that Nancy Mitford was a great admirer and wearer of Dior's 'New Look.'

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

A place, a room

My parents have lived in our home for thirty years. I have always loved home yet since the wedding preparations I think of it even more warmly. Those weekends of preparations, arriving the week before the wedding, those final days of preparation, sleeping there the night before, waking in the morning,
leaving the house with Pops...

With these memories I treasure even more the time spent there, part of looking forward to Christmas was being home. How perfect that I read this sentence in the book I was reading over Christmas.

'Is it rational to have a sentiment about a place? A place, a room is just a space enclosed, volume sequestered by concrete and glass.' Simon Mawer The Glass Room

dream home
My answer to this question is a loud resounding YES. What's your answer?

Saturday, 1 January 2011

And in another year everything will be different yet again.

A quote for New Year's Day.

'She thought a year ago I would never have dreamed...that we could be here, like this, that I would feel as I do, that I could have become a new person. And in another year everything will be different yet again. It is always like that, and always will be; you are forever standing on the brink, in a place where you cannot see ahead; there is nothing of certain except what lies behind. This should be terrifying, but somehow it is not.' Penelope Lively Consequences


How do you feel about last year?