Wednesday, 29 February 2012

The Month of February

Finally February arrived.
A weekend of entertaining my parents. The first time they've stayed in our home. It was lovely. We wandered into our town centre, watched the fireworks to celebrate Greenwich becoming a Royal Borough and then the snow fell. After a cooked breakfast off to Oxlea Woods. So lovely to see the snow - the beauty of the trees, the shrill of the sledges.
Thursday night a little more snow fell.
A quiet weekend. Collecting our wallpaper, a hair cut, mooch along Northcote Road and then to Warmth's parent's.
A day trip to Cambridge to visit dear friends.
Spending Valentine's together. The bus to Greenwich, a walk through Greenwich Park up on Blackheath and then down through the village.
Visiting Granny Warmth in Worthing and then along the coast for an afternoon in Brighton.
An early wake up and a return to Portobello Market on a Friday. For nine years this was where I worked and so the Friday market was part of the rhythm of my week. I miss it and feel quite emotional returning, A favourite croissant from Gail's. A return to my market stall, and yes they remembered me. A pleasing purchase of two cashmere cardigans, a Persephone and a nail paint. Then a hop on the tube and I made it on the 11.30am train to Berkhamsted for lunch with dear university friends.
An expensive visit to the optician for new glasses. Ouch but I have had my last pair for nearly 10 years. So price per wear they're actually quite cheap, well that's what I'm telling myself.
A planned mooch along Marylebone High Street was rather cut short due to the rain. A meet up with Warmth's brother and wife. A pub for the boys and then to The London Cocktail Club for the girls and supper at DimT to satisfy all our stomachs.
A Sunday of productive jobs around the house. Arranging with a neighbour to prune our apple tree and then a paint of our laundry room. (A smart name for the cupboard that houses our washing machine.)
The end of a lovely half term.
Meeting a dear friend for cake and cocktails at Drink,Shop, Do.
Friday night cocktails with the best girls and then for supper. So lovely to catch up and a warm fuzzy glow of love as we laughed, listened and sipped the night away.
Picking up my new glasses. Thankfully I like them, as does Warmth, which is good as he sees them more than me!
Ma and Pa Warmth for Sunday lunch. The last entertaining before our dining room is redecorated - starting the very next day.
Hoping I've managed to stop word verification for posting. Please let me know. Next step ability to reply to individual comments.
Restarted baking. Nigella's Supper onion tart for lunch with butternut squash and stilton soup. Bea's of Bloomsbury's Snickerdoodle biscuits for afternoon tea. A beef stew for supper and Jamie Oliver's Plum and almond tart. Note - half the filling as we had an additional small pudding made from the left over filling. Bill Granger Little Lemon Puddings after a delicious roast pork.
Finished Hostages to Fortune by Elizabeth Cambridge and then braced myself for Ian McEwan's The Comfort of Strangers.With a story line like that I was glad it was a very short story, not sure I could have managed a full length book of that story. Then my first Elizabeth Taylor - A view from the harbour. Just in time to join in with Stuck in a Book's hosting of this Taylor. Finishing the month with my third Elizabeth - Elizabeth Bowen.

I'm now itching for full blown beautiful spring to blossom and bloom.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Crooked, twisted, blasted

Rachel at Booksnob  hosted a gentle re read of Sense &Sensibility. I re read it recently for book club so it wasn't the right time for another re read. Here's Edward speaking, or perhaps one should say waffling.

"I like a fine prospect, but not on picturesque principles. I do not like crooked, twisted, blasted trees. I admire them much more if they are tall. straight, and flourishing. I do not like ruined, tattered cottages. I am not fond of nettles, or thistles, or heath blossoms. I have more pleasure in a snug farm-house than a watch-tower..." Jane Austen Sense & Sensibility

How do you like your trees and houses?

Friday, 24 February 2012

Gentle Rain

"The quality of mercy is not strained,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest,
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes."
William Shakespeare The Merchant of Venice

Thank you Bellezza for hosting Venice in February.
Now where to holiday next?

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Pointed Stares

"Made a noise in the back of her mouth and then sat saying nothing, but looking the way women do when they have an opinion they are not going to express openly. I don't know what they think those pointed stares are if not opinions deprived of words?" Salley Vickers Miss Garnet's Angel


I don't think it's just women who have this look though, maybe it's more to do with the personality or situation. What do you think?

Monday, 20 February 2012

Courage, Truth and Mercy

I've managed to read one book for Venice in February. This week's quotes are from books I've already read set in Venice. Miss Garnet's Angel.

"Who or what [do]you worship?"
"How would courage, truth and mercy and right action strike you?"
"But those are not gods," I protested...
"Tobias, for heavens sake, what do you think a god looks like when he works in men?"
Salley Vickers Miss Garnet's Angel
Have you read Miss Garnet's Angel?

Friday, 17 February 2012

Blog Birthday

As it's Flowers and Stripes second birthday tomorrow I thought a cake, flowers, balloons and a new party dress were desired....



Oscar de la Renta

And here's a little gift for you for coming to my party and to say thank you for sharing this year with me.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Genuine Happiness

As it's Valentine's day and Florence Finds Book Club this month is Little Women here's a quote from L.M. Alcott. Mother March sensible and loving as ever on the question of Meg marrying John.

"I'm not ambitious for a splendid fortune, a fashionable position, or a great name for my girls. If rank and money come with love and virtue, also, I should accept them gratefully, and enjoy your good fortune; but I know, by experience, how much genuine happiness can be had in a plain little house, where the daily bread is earned, and some privations give sweetness to the few pleasures;" L.M Alcott Little Women

Monday, 13 February 2012

Flimsiest of papers

I joyfully joined in with Venice in February partly as I knew we had a book I could read, without having to buy another one. It was Ian McEwan's The Comfort of Strangers. I had been forewarned about this book. My is it eerie. Read Bellezza's review and the comments to find out more. After finishing it I felt the need to return to Miss Pettigrew lives for the day to restore my faith in the comfort of strangers.
I shall just post on this passage, quite near the beginning, which made me smile.

'A variety of maps was on sale. The least significant were produced by commercial interests and, besides showing the more obvious tourist attractions, they gave great prominence to certain shops or restaurants. These maps were marked with the principal streets only. Another map was in the form of a badly printed booklet and it was easy, Mary and Colin had found, to get lost as they walked from one page to another. Yet another was the expensive, officially sanctioned map which showed the whole city and named even the narrowest of passageways. Unfolded, it measured four feet by three and, printed on the flimsiest of papers, was impossible to manage outdoors without a suitable table and special clips. Finally there was a series of maps, noticeable by their blue-and-white striped covers, which divided the city into five manageable sections, none of them unfortunately overlapping.' Ian McEwan The Comfort of Strangers

How is your map of Venice?


Friday, 10 February 2012

True Love

Wislawa Szymborska. Somewhere I read this poem. I loved it so much I searched for my own copy. When I read about the death of Polish Nobel Laureaute, Wislawa Szymborska I knew who she was, felt sad and reached for my book of her poems.

True Love
True Love. Is it normal,
is it serious, is it practical?
What does the world get from two people
who exist in the world of their own?
true love


Look at the happy couple.
Couldn't they at least try to hide it,
fake a little depression for their friends' sake?
Listen to them laughing - it's an insult.
The language they use - deceptively clear.
And their little celebrations, rituals,
the elaborate mutual routines-
it's obviously a plot behind the human race's back!

True love. Is it really necessary?
Tact and common sense tell us to pass over it in silence,
like a scandal in Life's highest circles.
Perfectly good children are born without its help.
It couldn't populate the planet in a million years,
it comes along so rarely.

Wislawsa Szymborska

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Bare Black Branches

Seventh February
There is something very beautiful in the tracery of the bare black branches of the trees against the pale blue sky. D.E Stevenson Mrs Tim and the Regiment

Yet another of Mrs Tim's thoughts that I have often thought. I love it when that happens in a book. Suddenly coming across your own thoughts expressed by a character. It's even better when you like the character.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Winter Night

Winter Night
Snow swept over the earth,
Swept it from end to end.
The candle on the table burned.

Like swarms of summer midges
Drawn to the flame 
The snowflakes
Flocked to the window.

The driven snow drew circles and arrows
On the window pane.
The candle on the table burned,
The candle burned.

And everything was lost 
In the white-haired, white, snowy darkness.
The candle on the table burned,
The candle burned.


The snow swept all through February,
And now and again
The candle on the table burned,
The candle burned.

Boris Pasternak
Dr. Zhivago

How did you spend your snowy Sunday?

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Venice in February

Dolce Bellezza is hosting Venice in February. I thought I'd join in. I shall be reading Ian McEwan's Comfort of Strangers. This challenge also fits into my own personal, and very much on going challenge, of reading some of Warmth's very many books. I shall also be using this as an excuse to post some of my favourite quotes from Salley Vickers' Miss Garnet's Angel and The Merchant of Venice.
Will you be travelling to Venice this February?