Thursday, 31 March 2011

The Month of March

The month started well. A cold cold day. Home early due to a course and the door bell rang. My Brora clearance sale goodies arrived. Pink finger warmers and green bed socks. Spring like yet warm. Alas I'd double clicked and so then the next day another complete order arrived. Eeek. Managing to dress for World Book Day and not look out of place either on the train or more importantly when... Celebrating Great Uncle Henry's 100th birthday at The Crown A 60th birthday party just down the road... Operation Buy Home has expanded to Eltham now. We are determined and serious in trying to find somewhere. This included six viewings in one weekend. We now have an offer excepted on a house... Meeting a local fellow book blogger for tea at The Teapot. Exploring a new bar. Describing itself as a cross between a Victorian gin palace and a speakeasy. Purl. Book a booth, read the cocktail list and sit back... My hairdresser had a pop up shop. Oh if we had a home I would have bought. Celebrating a biggish birthday for Mama Warmth at Baltic. There will be more celebrations... Meeting Twin at Angel for a touch of shopping, peach bellini, supper and then to Sadler's Wells to see 'The Most Incredible Thing' Music by the Pet Shop Boys, one of the main reasons Twin arranged the tickets, and story by Hans Christian Anderson. It was incredible. A journey across to our old patch of London to see friends. It made me reflect on this post. A lovely walk along the river, drinks outside, wearing sunglasses. A Friday supper out just Warmth and I to Wine Wharf. We should do this more often. Celebrating dearest friend's Hen celebration with afternoon at The Lanesborough Nurses and teachers battling through the uncut marches to celebrate felt a little strange. Then to Barnes to meet up with the Warmth family who'd been celebrating The Boat Race. Reading Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Started Family album by Penelope Lively but have also bought American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield for Book Club read. Films watched - Frost/Nixon. Warmth watched The Hurt Locker, I read Vogue. Varnish - OPI Plunging into Plum. Hmm not sure a little too bright. A new Chanel - Black Pearl. A terrible broken nail - feels like it's so short it will never grow back...

The feeling that Spring has Sprung.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Coming into Blossom

The blossom trees are truly blossoming... 'There was a smell of all the flowers at once, as if the earth had been unconscious all day long and were now waking. And from the Countess's centuries-old garden, so littered with fallen branches that it was impenetrable, the dusty aromatic smell of old lime trees coming into blossom drifted in a huge wave as tall as a house.' Boris Pasternak Dr. Zhivago


Do you have any pretty views of blossom near you?

Friday, 25 March 2011

Jane Eyre

Monday's Sense and Sensibility post was due to reading it for book club. Whilst discussing it we spoke about books that have changed for us as we grow older. We may find a greater depth to them or somehow the sparkle we felt on first reading isn't quite there on the second... That book for me is Jane Eyre. Reading the posts about the Vilette read along brings back memories of loving Jane Eyre so much that I immediately read another of her novels, Vilette. Then Rachel posted about the forth coming film. There was nothing else I could do but find my copy and see if any pages were turned down. This is the only page eighteen year old me turned down.

'Yes,' he replied, 'absolutely sans mademoiselle; for I am to take mademoiselle to the moon, and there I shall seek a cave in one of the white valleys among the volcano-tops, and mademoiselle shall live with me there, and only me.
'She shall have nothing to eat: you will starve her,' observed Adele.
'I shall gather manna for her morning and night: the plains and hillsides in the moon are bleached with manna, Adele.'
'She will want to warm herself: what shall she do for fire?'
'Fire rises out of the lunar mountains: when she is cold I will carry her up to a peak, and lay her down on the edge of a crater.'
'Oh qu'elle y sera mal - peu comfortable! and her clothes, they will wear out: how can she get new ones?'
Mr Rochester professed to be puzzled. 'Hem!' said he. '...How would a white or pink cloud answer for a gown, do you think? And one could cut a pretty enough scarf out of a rainbow.' Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre

I'm now itching for a re read, before the film comes out in the UK.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Sense and Sensibility

This is the first Austen I've re read whilst blogging. Looking at my book of quotations I've only one Jane Austen quote stored away. But still. I was looking for beautiful words about the countryside, frippery sentences about clothes, great lines about familiar London places. But no. What seemed like endless comments on how much money someone has.

What I did pick out were the great exclamations made by Mrs Jennings

"Oh! Colonel," said she, with her usual noisy cheerfulness, "I am monstrous glad to see you."

or thoughts by Marianne
'...and she was wildly urgent to be gone."

Their brother Mr John Dashwood
"She has borne it all with the fortitude of an angel!"

Miss Steele, her third 'la!' in one page
"La! if you have not got your best spotted muslin on!"

And then Miss Austen slams in a passage like this....

"We think now" -said Mr. Dashwood, after a short pause, "of Robert's marrying Miss Morton."
Elinor, smiling at the grave and decisive importance of her brother's tome. calmly replied,
"The lady, I suppose, has no choice in the affair."
"Choice! -how do you mean?"-
"I only mean, that I suppose from your manner of speaking, it must be the same to Miss Morton whether she marry Edward or Robert."
"Certainly, there can be no difference; for Robert will now to all intents and purposes be considered as the eldest son;- and as to anything else, they are both very agreeable young men..."

And to my twenty first century mind that truly is monstrous.

Monday, 21 March 2011

World Poetry Day

In Praise of dreams by Wislawa Szymborska

In my dreams
I paint like Vermeer van Delft.
I speak fluent Greek
and not just with the living.
I am gifted
and write mighty epics.
My brilliance as a pianist
would stun you.
I fly the way we ought to.
i.e, on my own.
I've got no problem
breathing under water.
I can't complain:
I've been able to locate Atlantis.
A few years ago
I saw two suns.
And the night before last a penguin,
clear as day.

Vermeer van Delft

What can you do in your dreams?

Thursday, 17 March 2011

The Kitchen

Alot of the talking and thinking happens in the kitchen in A House in the Country.

"Cressida Chance, alone in the kitchen, slammed the oven door, filled a kettle and put it on the boiling-plate of the stove, scattered cups and saucers and plates on the big table at one side of the room and fetched bread and butter and homey from the larder."

are so happy

"The kettle began to sing on the cooker but memory would not be stopped."

"It is my experience,"... "that in the kitchen you make friends; in the drawing-room you make conversation."

it's mary ruffle

"If a kitchen is not homely it has lost its soul!"

Are so happy
Discussing women and cooking

"Hard? No!" he exclaimed brightly. 'It is a question of fashion only! When cooking shall become the fashion, of more effect than a new hat or a new shade of lipstick, then there will not be so many who hate it!'
What are your thoughts?

Monday, 14 March 2011

Round About a Pound a Week

My thoughts on Round About a Pound a Week have been circling and now I think they have settled. I've been living my twenty first century life and thinking about their lives, seeing where my thoughts fit into their lives.

My first jolt was when house hunting last week. We're thinking are they big enough for us and maybe more if we were to grow as a family? Yet how many people lived in these same terraced houses? How large were the families? How many families - perhaps two to what were then two up two down. When they were built were the property developers aware of the cramped conditions people would endure? If the government had played a more central role would larger houses have been built? Would they have limited the sub letting?

"But, when all is said and done, these reforms could do very little as long as most of the present buildings exist at all, or as long as a family of eight persons can only afford two, or at most three, small rooms to live in. The rent is too dear; the houses are too old or too badly built, or both; the streets are too narrow; the rooms are too small; and there are far too many people to sleep in them."

Many of our blogs, my conversations with friends and family about cooking. I love having the time to sit and read cook books to decide what to cook or bake, yet as Maud Pember Reeves notes

"So much has to be done each day. The Lambeth woman has no joy in cooking for its own sake."

These are the women who enable the Jocelyn Playfairs to write the books we read. These women still have hopes, dreams, intelligence yet no time or space or materials to share them. Our female authors may feel trapped - how more so do these women feel. Can there be differing levels of feeling trapped and if so does it make any difference?

"All these women, with perhaps, the exception of Mrs K., seemed to have lost any spark or humour or desire for different surroundings. The same surroundings with a little more money... and a little less to do, was about the best their imaginations could grasp. Mrs K. liked being read to... It roused her imagination in a way which was astonishing. She questioned, she believed, she accepted."

There is so much to say about this book but I'll finish by saying read it and keep this quote in your mind as you read it.

"They are respectable men in full work, at a more or less top wage, young, with families still increasing, and they will be lucky if they are never worse off than they are now."

Friday, 11 March 2011

First Signs of Spring

It's coming... We can feel it in our bones...

'First signs of spring. Thaw. The sleepy air smells of buttered pancakes and vodka as at shrovetide. A sleepy, oily sun blinking in the forest, sleepy pines blinking their needles like eyelashes, oily puddles shining at noon. The countryside yawns, stretches turns over and goes back to sleep.' Boris Pasternak Dr. Zhivago


Hope you enjoy the first signs of spring this weekend.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Women and the War

Having had Virago Reading Week and Persephone Reading Weekend so far this year and Tuesday being International Women's Day. A passage about Women, home and wartime from A House in the Country, by the ever wise Tori.

"Everyone speaks of the test of war, which takes many different forms. For women there is the test of courage, to go with men into danger, bear hardship and discomfort, to work all days in factories, to be tired and perhaps afraid. But for me I think that to stay at home, to be unnoticed, to do the same things, to be bored, to be tired by work which no one sees, to live in the same way that you have always lived, with only the difference that it is upon you that all the work will now fall, there, I think, is the most severe test of all." Jocelyn Playfair A House in the Country

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Phenomenal Woman

So here was the poem that they posted, more for my archives than anything else.

Phenomenal Woman

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.
I'm not cute or built to suit a fashion model's size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I'm telling lies.
I say,
It's in the reach of my arms,
the span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please,
I say,
It's the fire in my eyes,
And the flash of my teeth,
The swing in my waist,
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally woman,
That's me.


I say,
It's in the arch of my back,
The sun in my smile,
The ride of my breasts,
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me


Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed.
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud.
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say,
It's in the click of my heels,
The bend of my hair,
the palm of my hand,
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenal woman,
That's me.

Maya Angelou
jump balloons, wind

Wishing you a phenomenal day x

Phenomenal Woman

To celebrate International Womens' Day Clare, Aisling and Angie asked a variety of women to send in their thoughts. Do pop along and read the thoughts offered.

How will you be celebrating International Women's Day?

Friday, 4 March 2011

I hold her heart in mine

Great Uncle Henry is GreyGran's brother in law. Alas she was unable to make the celebrations. She's too frail and suffers from dementia. My soft spot for her grows each time I see her, and it was pretty big to begin with. Even though dementia was setting in when Warmth and I married it was the one piece of current information which she knew. She celebrated our wedding day with us. And that memory is one that makes the day even more precious. Her last family event.
Last time we saw GreyGran we sat and held her hand for an hour. Each of us with one of our hands in hers, sometimes she stroked our hands, sometimes we stroked hers. Words don't come easily any more so holding hands said more than any words could possibly have said.

"I hold her hand in mine, I hold her heart in mine." Charles Dickens David Copperfield

it's mary ruffle
Yes, as we held each other's hands. We held each other's hearts too.

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Great Uncle Henry

So today we're off to celebrate Great Uncle Henry's 100th birthday. He still lives by himself in the home he and his wife bought over fifty years ago in Bow, East London.

A quotation about how we change through life seems appropriate today.

..."there is no such thing as a coherent human personality. When you are forty you have no cell in your body that you had at eighteen. It was the same, he said, with your character. Memory is the only thing that binds you to earlier selves; for the rest, you become an entirely different being every decade or so, sloughing off the old persona, renewing and moving on. You are not who you were, he told her, nor who you will be." Sebastian Faulks Charlotte Gray

we heart it

Happy Birthday Henry x