Monday, 31 December 2012

The month of December

Started with a visit to the where I used to live in London, in fact walking past the end of my old road, to visit a friend who is involved in an open studio there. It was a lovely chance to eat mince pies and more importantly catch up with her.
A wonderful crisp walk across Blackheath and Greenwich park and knowing that now it's December we can really feel Christmassy.
Eating too many delicious Ecchelfechan
Up and out early to try and finish our Christmas shopping, a successful trip we were back home having bought what was needed by midday.
Wrapping up and sending my Olive Dragonfly Secret Santa gift.
A mismatched week whilst the front room was being decorated - but my it was worth it. Sitting here all decorated and with our Christmas tree is December bliss.
Off to great friends' wedding. Delicious lunch in a local pub, a wonderful service, with the occasional bauble rolling off the Christmas tree, then the reception. Catching up with old friends, some whom I haven't seen for a few years. A lovely way to truly feel festive.
Finally the last week of term. End of term concerts, Reception class nativity complete with arguing Wise Men, class Christmas parties and finally the staff pantomime, Cinderella.
Discovering that what I thought was a book shop very near our home is the most delightful one with it's own reading room and complimentary tea. Ink and Folly I look forward to being a frequent customer.
Meeting dear friends for an annual Christmas meal at Loch Fyne and more importantly catch up.
Most thankful for the above book shop. We managed to find the book we needed for a Blessing in there so no need to go anywhere else.
A quiet day due to end of term exhaustion, sad to miss a dear friends Champagne and Shepherd's Pie party.
A lazy Sunday wrapping presents, Granny Warmth coming up and going out for a local lunch. Then Mama and Papa Warmth coming round for mince pies.
Christmas Eve spent listening to Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King's whilst baking sweets for Christmas day. Peppermint Bark a huge success, discovered from Papermash originally from here. Orange and Cranberry biscotti and Chocolate Kisses.
Christmas Eve supper of M&S turkey, bread sauce, red cabbage, roast potatoes, parsnips as an early Christmas gift to Warmth, we were having beef on Christmas day.
A wet drive down to Twin and the Blessings. Mother was already there. Opening of presents, a short walk in the few moments of dry weather, a delicious lunch, Skype call to Pops who was in Jerusalem, having been in Bethlehem for Christmas Eve and the service there. We sang to Pops and apparently the whole of the hotel lobby heard us. Boxing Day walk followed by delicious leftover lunch and then time for us to pack up and say our festive goodbyes.
Getting ready for hosting Warmth's family for our Christmas celebrations. We ate well and I continued my tradition of making a Chocolate Yule Log.
Having so much food left over that when dear friends came for supper the next day we ate leftovers and still have some leftover. As we hadn't had to cook supper breakfast was baked croque monsieur.
Loving reading Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, the perfect December read, even though most of the stories aren't about Christmas. Alys, always by Harriet Lane. Instead of a book by Diana Athill - a present for Christmas last year. Devouring Jerusalem by Ottolonghi, a happily received Christmas gift. Now to plan what to cook.

And for today we're going to see A Christmas Carol, then on for cocktails and home to snuggle up and welcome in 2013.

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

The fat turkey

'There never was such a Christmas dinner as they had that day. The fat turkey was a sight to behold, when Hannah sent him up, stuffed, browned and decorated. So was the plum-pudding, which quite melted in one's mouth;' Louisa May Alcott Little Women

However you're spending the day today, festive love x

Monday, 24 December 2012

unwholesome food

Today's #shareadvent is 'Carry out a family tradition or start a new one.' Each Christmas we gather new traditions. Maybe this year's is a Christmas tea with Granny Warmth at our home.

'every year at Compton Bobbin the German and Sussex customs were made to play their appointed parts. Thus the Christmas Tree, Christmas stockings and other activities of Santa Claus, and the exchange through the post of endless cards and calenders (German); the mistletoe and holly decorations, the turkeys, the boar's head, and a succession of carol singers and mummers (Sussex Roman Catholic); and the unlimited opportunity to over-eat on every sort of unwholesome food washed down with honest beer, which forms the groundwork for both schools of thought, combined to provide the ingredients of Lady Bobbin's Christmas Pudding.' Nancy Mitford Christmas Pudding

What are your Christmas traditions?

Friday, 21 December 2012

comfort and joy

I'm not sure I'll make the #shareadvent prompt of 'go to a carol concert' today as it's the last day of term and I shall be busy being Buttons in the staff pantomime. So to ensure we do have carols today I give you this quote.

'At this moment Nina came in to say that there were carol singers outside the drawing room window.
'Bring 'em in,' said the Colonel. 'Bring 'em in. They come every year. And tell Florin to bring up the punch.'
Florin brought up the punch in a huge silver punch bowl... They stood against the sideboard, caps in hand, blinking in the gaslight, and very red about the nose and cheeks with the sudden warmth.

'Oh, tidings of comfort and joy,' they sang. 'comfort and joy,
Oh, tidings of comfort and joy.'

They sang Good King Wenceslas, and The First Noel, and Adeste Fidelis, and While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks.' Evelyn Waugh Vile Bodies


Monday, 17 December 2012

These are the hands

As the bride stood with her father waiting to walk down the aisle on Saturday's wedding this was read.

These are the hands of your best friend, young and strong full of love for you, that are holding yours on your wedding day, as you promise to love each other today, tomorrow, and forever.
These are the hands that will work alongside yours, as together you build your future.
These are the hands that will passionately love you and cherish you through the years, and with the slightest touch, will comfort you like no other.
These are the hands that will hold you when fear or grief fills your mind.
These are the hands that will countless times wipe the tears from your eyes; tears of sorrow, and tears of joy.
These are the hands that will tenderly hold your children.
These are the hands that will help you to hold your family as one.
These are the hands that will give you strength when you need it.
And lastly, these are the hands that even wrinkled and aged, will still be reaching for yours, still giving you the same unspoken tenderness with just a touch.
Traditional Celtic Handfasting Ceremony


Saturday, 15 December 2012


We're at a wedding today so 'hang mistletoe in your home' for #shareadvent is perfect. We've yet to decide where to hang the mistletoe we've bought but I do hope there's at least one sprig somewhere at the wedding...

'The long street was packed with people, and there was a feeling of frost in the air, but no stars, only a dense, muffling bed of cloud almost touching the bare beechwoods on the hidden hills all around the town. In the butchers' shops the dangling turkeys were tied up with red ribbon, and hares decorated with spiked bunches of holly and moon-mistletoe..' Stella Gibbons The Little Christmas Tree in Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm


Monday, 10 December 2012

feast days

Today with #shareadvent it's Gratitude. This post makes me grateful for a festivity to break up the dark winter months. An excuse to see family, celebrate, reflect and be joyful.

'How wise and right feast days were, and how cleverly Christmas broke up the winter ... just when the weight of the cold and darkness were beginning to make themselves felt.' Elizabeth Cambridge Hostages to Fortune


Friday, 7 December 2012

hot and shimmering with candles

The prompt for #shareadvent today is. 'Light a candle. Remember. Give Thanks.'

'Audrey stood and looked at the Christmas tree. She had had a good tea, though not as good as she would have liked, or could have managed. Now there was this new and shining thing. The little spindling thuya which she had seen, dusty and lonely, in its pot, stood translated. Its spiky boughs stood out stiffly. bright with red, yellow and pink butterflies, hot and shimmering with candles. 
The point of the flames strained upwards, there was a smell of warm wax. she was too happy to shout or sing. She was so happy that she had a hollow feeling in the pit of her stomach. It hurt, yet she wished that this minute could go on forever. The wonderful tree was true.' Elizabeth Cambridge Hostages to fortune.

Monday, 3 December 2012

compounding of Christmas cakes

One of my favourite books is Jane Eyre. I re read it this year and saved this quote for Christmas and today on #shareadvent it's read a favourite book.

'My first aim will be to clean down... Moor House from chamber to cellar; my next to rub it up with beeswax, oil, and an indefinite number of cloths, till it glitters again; my third, to arrange every chair, table, bed, carpet, with mathematical precision, afterwards I shall go near to ruin you in coals and peat to keep up good fires in every room; and lastly, the two days preceding that on which your sisters are expected will be devoted by Hannah and me to such a beating of eggs, sorting of currants, grating of spices, compounding of Christmas cakes, chopping up of materials for mince pies, and solemnizing of other culinary rites...' Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre

How will you be preparing your home for Christmas?

Saturday, 1 December 2012

a large holly wreath

Anna at Skin and Blister is hosting a wonderful idea of #shareadvent. I'm hoping to join in through taking part with activities and photos on instagram. I also thought I'd try to link some Christmas quotes into this. The first day is Make/Buy a wreath.

'There was a great deal of interest in Christmas decorations; Mrs Bridge very much enjoyed them, but at the same time they presented her with a problem: if you did not put up any decorations you were being conspicuous, and if you put up too many you were being conspicuous. At the very least there should be a large holly wreath on the front door; at most there might be half a dozen decorations visible including the Christmas tree...
Every year, then, the Bridges' home was festive without being ostentatious. A strand of green lights was woven through the branches of a small spruce tree near the front porch, and there was a wreath in each of the first floor windows and a large wreath with a red ribbon and a cluster of bells attached to the knocker of the front door. Inside, in a corner of the living room away from the heat of the fireplace, stood the tree. it's topmost branches clipped or bent so as not to stain the ceiling, and a bed sheet draped around the bottom... Presents were arranged on the sheet and a few small presents tied to the limbs. There was tinsel on the tree, and there were peppermint candy canes and popcorn balls and electric candles, and some new ornaments each year to replace the broken ones.' Evan S. Connell Mrs Bridge

Will you have a wreath this year?


Friday, 30 November 2012

The month of November

Last day of the holidays and Warmth had the day off. A day of chores and beginning the paint choosing for the newly plastered front room. Will it be Lamp Room Gray, French Gray, Elephant's Breath or Old White?
A lovely afternoon/evening with Warmth's brother and wife. starting off with drinks in the Young Vic bar and then a carb fest of burgers, chips and mac cheese, the vegetables being onion rings, courgette fries and a slice of pickle at Byron Burger.
A very wet Sunday with a mooch at We Make London Fair and resting before returning back to school. What a lovely relaxing week it's been.
Back to school and Friday night supper with Mama and Papa Warmth who've just come back from some time in France.
Then off to my parents for a family weekend to say goodbye to Pops who is now in Palestine with EAPPI. A weekend of food. Arriving in time for tea and rock cakes, a Chinese takeaway, a delicious breakfast whilst Pops opened his Christmas gifts, then a glorious walk along the beach in Deal before home for roast pork, the choice of three puddings and a huge cheese board. Then a tearful au revoir.
Meeting up with my dear old colleagues at our favourite restaurant for chat, Early Years news and friendship. A very lovely belated birthday gift of vouchers for Anthropologie meant that I could buy the measuring cups I've been drooling over for the last month. So glad I resisted the other times.
Meeting up with a dear university friend at Tate Britain for the Pre-Raphaelite exhibition. How funny to read this as the opening line of my book on the train in.
'There is a certain room in the Tate Gallery which, in these unregenerate days is more a passage-way towards the French pictures...'
'He now observed that it was mostly hung with large with large and unpleasant works of the 'Every picture tells a story' school, interspersed with some rather inferior examples of pre-Raphaelitism...' Nancy Mitford Christmas Pudding
A very lovely Friday night in with mother and then a very cold, wet, grey mis Saturday beginning the Christmas shopping.
Lunch with Mama and Papa Warmth.
Suddenly feeling it getting much colder...

Reading The other side of truth by Beverley Ngaioo for the English course I'm on through school. A little troubling reading about refugees and trying to get into a country just as dad was flying to Israel and then onto Palestine in the midst of everything. Making a long waited for start on the first of my Christmas books - Christmas Pudding by Nancy Mitford. No baking, apart from the ubiquitous banana bread, I'm all ready for December baking though.

Monday, 26 November 2012

two boxes of fancy notepaper

We started some of our Christmas shopping this weekend and had our traditional Christmas shopping lunch of a Pret turkey sandwich.

'Either side of the crowded dirty street the lights were coming out in the shop windows. Snow fingered their faces like cold feathers. They went gay. They bought red, green, yellow, and solferino candles in a box for a shilling at an ironmongers, they bought red and gold cake frill for sixpence at a cash drug stores, and two boxes of fancy notepaper and two pairs of gloves at a drapers. They bought oranges, and chocolate mice, and soap babies, and penny whistles for the stockings...' Elizabeth Cambridge Hostages to Fortune

Are you an organised buy gifts in advance person or do you like to save it for nearer the time?

Thursday, 22 November 2012

adorned a belle

We're still enjoying arranging and decorating our home. Warmth's latest find from Ebay is a wonderful bureau. It holds books, but open it up and there is space for stationery and to write letters.

'Amy's chief delight was an Indian cabinet full of queer drawers, little pigeon-holes, and secret places in which were kept all sorts of ornaments, some precious, some merely curious, all more or less antique. To examine and arrange these things gave Amy great satisfaction, especially the jewel cases; in which, on velvet cushions, reposed the ornaments which had adorned a belle forty years ago.' Louisa May Alcott Little Women

I can't imagine Aunt March having any furniture like this, but I can imagine Amy admiring and desiring an such a piece.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Our greatest heart treasure

I'm still mulling on Someone at a distance. Would this passage fit in with Ellen's thoughts and beliefs?

'Our greatest heart treasure is a knowledge that there is in creation an individual to whom our existence is necessary - some one who is part of our life as we are part of theirs, some one in whose life we feel assured our death would leave a gap for a day or two. And who can this be but a husband or wife? Our parents have other children and themselves, our brothers and sisters marry and have lives apart, so with our friends; but ones husband would be different.' Miles Franklin My Brilliant Career


Friday, 16 November 2012

Goodbye, my love

We all travelled home on Sunday for a farewell lunch for Pops. Tomorrow he leaves for three months volunteering in Palestine with EAPPI

'Language was inadequate, after all. One used the same words for a parting which might be for years... as one did for an overnight business trip. She put her arms tightly around him and said, 'Goodbye, my love.' Mollie Panter-Downes Goodbye, my love in Good Evening, Mrs Craven: The wartime stories of Mollie Panter-Downes

au revoir
He's only going for three months the words the same as usual when we say goodbye after a family weekend but the tears and the longer, tighter hug spoke of a different au revoir.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Someone at a distance

Whilst reading Someone at a distance I thought what a wonderful television, BBC I feel, adaptation it would make. If they hurried I'm sure it could be ready for next Christmas. There would have to be a caveat of no changing the story line as a film company did with Miss Pettigrew lives for a day.  My mind started wandering who would I cast?

I think Kiera Knightly fresh from her Anna Karenina role would play Louise, Audrey Tatou though beautiful is too lovely for the part. Louise also reminded me of maybe modern day WAG and how we think characters only out for glamour and money are a modern occurrence. Louise shows that they have always, and will always exist.

'The light from the lamp shone downwards on her smooth dark head. Her arms were bare and slender on the desk, her dress, her favourite magenta red, fitted closely over waist and bosom and spread into wide skirts as she sat. ...there was no one to look at her. But it really didn't matter, because she looked at herself from time to time in the mirror on the wall. She always gave as much pleasure to her own eyes as to others. More, in fact, because she alone knew what perfect finish she had achieved.'


I fear that Colin Firth is perhaps too old to play Avery,
'Nevertheless, at forty-three, he was beginning to put on weight. So far it only added to his good looks. He was tall and it suited him to be slightly heavy in build.'

I'm still undecided on Ellen, Hugh and Anne. Though in my mind Anne would be dressed in Orla Kiely clothes, with blonde hair and a fringe.
'She was such a persuasive teasing sort of child. Very lovable.' 
Orla Kiely

I'm pondering Dames Maggie Smith and Judi Dench as a wonderful double act of Miss Beasley and Mrs Pretty the cleaners (would make a change for Maggie Smith from being The Dowager), or would one of them be better as Old Mrs North and the other as Mrs Brockington?

There will then be a raft of wonderful small parts for all our great character actors and actresses. John Bennett, Miss Beldon the head teacher, stroppy Mrs Beard at Somerton, Miss Daley, Papa and Mama, Paul Devoisy.

Who would you cast in your adaptation of Someone at a distance?

Thursday, 8 November 2012

unseen, but certain

The final quote that I really liked, that in its way concludes the book.

'She had learnt to wait for the changes and the help that life brings. Life is like the sea, sometimes you are in the trough of the wave, sometimes on the crest, and always, trough or crest a mysterious tide bears you forward to an unseen, but certain shore.' Dorothy Whipple


Monday, 5 November 2012

love and courage

Rachel mentioned that she'd be hosting a read along of Someone at a Distance in the second week of November and lo and behold I just happened to be reading that novel. Rachel will I'm sure write the most wonderful and thought provoking posts. So I shall mainly focus on favourite passages. There were two that really spoke to me, passages that stick with you and one hopes to remember and return to when needed.

'You must go on with love and courage... and trust to God to carry you forward through your life.'
.... 'I think the way to grow in faith is to behave as if all God's promises are true, and miraculously, you find that they are.' Dorothy Whipple Someone at a Distance


Friday, 2 November 2012

pale-lit hours

So November is upon us. Hopefully it won't be as bleak as this description in Alaska.

'November was here, and it frightened her because she knew what it brought - cold upon the valley like a coming death, glacial wind through the cracks between the cabin logs. But most of all, darkness. Darkness so complete even the pale-lit hours would be choked.' Eowyn Ivey The Snow Child
cabin cosy

What are your plans for November?

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The month of October

The first Friday night and oh the rain. I've decided that rain on a Friday night should be banned. Meeting a dear friend who has just cycled LEJO'G for catch up drinks at Pix, resisting the tapas that are deliciously displayed there. Then on to meet with other friends at a bar on Dean Street. Oh this bar. I felt too old and as I had already thankfully caught up with friend I left to meet Warmth. Walking to where he was I passed Soho Joe, Burger & Lobster and DuckSoup three places that I really want to eat at. Joining Warmth in the rain at Cinnamon Soho for some food. The joys of small plate menus is joining late means everyone just gets to eat more.
Friday night supper with Mama and Papa Warmth.
A Saturday visit to Greenwich Auctions followed by a walk across Greenwich Park to Blackheath. collecting shining conkers on the way.
Twin and The Blessings to lunch. A roast dinner and another delightful autumnal walk in the local woods. Discussing which home Christmas will be celebrated in this year.
Baking Hot Chocolate Cup Cakes by the Hummingbird Bakery for the return from our autumnal walk.
Meeting up with dear friends that haven't gathered together for a while at Cork and Bottle in Leicester Square. How many times have I walked past this unassuming entrance right in the heart of Leicester Square. A cosy wine and food place perfect for an October evening.
Meeting up with friends for a lazy Saturday lunch at The Sun Inn and asked to be godmother. So Amity joins Toby, Oliver, Annabel, Amara and Juliette.
Sunday afternoon shopping in Anthropologie and Liberty's for two of the above godchildren's birthday gifts.
Celebrating the last day of half term by meeting a dear friend for pizza at favourite restaurant Rocket.
Celebrating an early start to half term because of Eid by meeting another dear friend and finally sampling the delicious food of Ottolenghi. I now want to buy, and cook from his new book Jerusalem.
A lazy Saturday and a late supper at Ganapati with friends. An even lazier Sunday with mother and Pops popping in for crumpets and cake.
Another lazy holiday day - though this was because the front room was being plastered so I just had to laze upstairs and read.
Finishing the month off with a trip to the V&A with Twin and the Blessings to see the Hollywood Costume exhibition.
Finally given up on JHD365 photo a day and a slight blogging lull.
Baking said Hot Chocolate Cup Cakes and the most delicious Cherry Marzipan cake.
Reading The Snow child by Eowyn Ivey and for a course at work The Garbage King by Elizabeth Laird. Finishing the month reading Someone at a Distance by Dorothy Whipple.

How was your October?

Monday, 22 October 2012

enchanting aromatic foods

'He lay back for a little while in his bed thinking about the smells of food, of the greasy horror of fried fish and the deeply moving smell that came from it; of the intoxicating breath of bakeries and the dullness of buns... He planned dinners of enchanting aromatic foods that should be carried under the nose, snuffed and thrown to the dogs... endless dinners in which one could alternate flavour with flavour from sunset to dawn without satiety, while one breathed great draughts of brandy' Evelyn Waugh Vile Bodies

Whilst I'm typing this out the delightful scent of Julia Child's Coq au vin, as cooked by Warmth is enchantingly floating up the stairs.
Hope you had a weekend of eating delicious food.

Friday, 19 October 2012

dusty stars of sunlight

Autumn makes me, as perhaps you, want to go to the woods and scuff the gorgeous leaves with my feet.

'It was better there, the woods were unchanged and dim, and still seemed to wrap one in an underwater atmosphere of green warmth, scattered with dusty stars of sunlight that had eaten through the thick delicately patterned ceiling. Deep in the woods there was a clearing, where the sky was a piece of bright colour, like a silken tent stretched across the gap in the trees.' Jocelyn Playfair A house in the country


Monday, 15 October 2012

rich, timeless fragrance

I picked up Rohinton Mistry's such a long journey in a second hand book shop. I've read one of his books before and enjoyed it and when I read on the back that 'set in Bombay against the backdrop of war in the Indian subcontinent and the birth of Bangladesh..' I wanted to read it. I teach in a predominantly Bengali community and want to know more. This sounded a perfect read. Alas 200pages in we have parted company.
I did enjoy reading these thoughts though.

'The smell of old books and bindings, learning and wisdom floated out.... Reaching in, he pulled out Brewer's Dictionary and opened it at random. He held it up to his nose and closed his eyes. The rich, timeless fragrance rose from the precious pages, soothing his uneasy confused spirit. He shut the book tenderly stroking its spine with the back of his fingers, and replaced it on the shelf.' Rohinton Mistry such a long journey


Friday, 12 October 2012

scant leaves

'There was not a breath of wind, and under the glowing white sky tinged with pink from the horizon which seemed to fume with the warning of frost, the scant leaves were hanging motionless from the lime trees. The waiters who had to serve the tables outside the cafe were wearing their overcoats over their long aprons. It was the first sting of autumn.' penelope fitzgerald the beginning of spring

Somehow 'the first sting of autumn' makes it seem horrible when in fact it's sometimes more like the 'first glory of autumn.' 

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

drifted serenely

Autumn is really creeping up so just a glimpse back to summer before we go full steam ahead.

'The villa was surrounded by a garden filled exclusively with plants that produced white flowers - tuberoses, camelias, carnations and lilies - and there were three ponds in which white swans drifted serenely.' Elisabeth Gille The Mirador

Friday, 5 October 2012

Pink Friday

Kirsty has put her money where her lipsticked mouth is and has taken a sabbatical from her paid job to volunteer for a few months at Breast Cancer Care. She has reminded a group of bloggers about Pink Friday.

I have a whole host of quotes concerning pink, but decided today to post a quote about bodies. It was only when I was in my mid twenties and realised that perhaps one day I could lose my breasts through breast cancer that I realised how much a part of me they were and no longer were they these things that made dressing difficult but there to be relished and proud of.

' chart your body, to map its poles, its contours and terrain, its inner regions, both temperate and torrid - a whole topography of skin and muscle and bone.
... I imagined a life time as your cartographer, years of exploration and discovery that would keep changing the look of my map. it would always need to be redrawn and reconfigured to keep up with you.' Siri Hustvedt What I loved

Wishing you a Pink Friday

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Abou Ben Adhem

Today is National Poetry Day and what better way to celebrate it than with one of my favourite  poems.

Abou Ben Adhem

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said.
'What writest thou?' The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, 'The names of those who love the Lord.'
'And is mine one?' said Abou. 'Nay, not so,'
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerily still; and said, 'I pray thee, then,
Write me as one who loves his fellow men.'
The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night 
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem's name led all the rest.

Leigh Hunt

Sunday, 30 September 2012

The month of September

Started with a day trip to Worthing to see Granny Warmth. After lunch we went for a walk along the beach, played on the 2p slot machines and all the joys of a local museum.
London has just been alive this summer with so many surprises. Walking from Charing Cross we discovered a Paralympic live site at Trafalgar Square and then walking up Regents Street, which was closed for Piccadilly Circus Circus. We gazed, gawped and admired the amazing acrobatic feats.
Back to work, but the evenings were still filled with Paralympics.
Glorious sunshine and a sunny Saturday mooching at Maltby Street Market and then Borough Market. Buying delicious food for a weekend of final September BBQs.
An early start on Sunday and in to London to eek out the last of London 2012 with cheering on the marathon. The sun shone and London looked glorious.
Picking a few apples from our tree, not nearly as many as last year.
Easing into autumn with footless tights...
Going to Renegade Craft at Spitalfields and meeting fellow blogger Anna there. A new brooch was bought. Then a lovely autumnal shopping mooch, up Marylebone High Street popping into Oxfam Bookshop, Rococo for a small salted chocolate bar, then meeting Warmth and Brother Warmth and wife for drinks.
A Sunday afternoon at the cinema for Anna Karenina. It felt like we should have vodka and caviar rather than popcorn to munch on.
A quiet weekend sharing food with Ma and Pa Warmth on Saturday and Mother and Pops on Sunday. Suddenly autumn has arrived, as did the rain.
Catching up with a dear friend at Pain Quotidian.
Another gorgeous sunny Saturday and off to Sevenoaks to visit some friends this evening.
Books read - very dismal I started Such a Long Journey by Rohinton Mistry but just couldn't get into it so 200 pages in we departed company.
Baking an apple streusal cake - not the most interesting but it's always lovely to have a cheeky slice of cake. Some more bananas so another banana cake. Julia Child's Coq au vin - the perfect recipe so much so that we've already planned who we're cooking it for next.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

mixing, grating, melting, infusing

A little like the excitement of returning to my autumn clothes after a summer of lighter clothes, even though I was longing to wear them in May. My thoughts for cooking are turning autumnal now. I've loved the summer salads, but now I want warm and comforting.

''There is a kind of sorcery in all cooking: in the choosing of ingredients, the process of mixing, grating, melting, infusing and flavouring, the recipes taken from ancient books, the traditional utensils - the pestle and mortar with which my mother made her incense turned to a more homely purpose, her spices and aromatics giving up their subtleties to a baser, more sensual magic. And it is partly the transience of it that delights me; so much loving preparation, so much art and experience put into a pleasure which can last only a moment, and which only a few will ever fully appreciate." Joanne Harris Chocolat

What have you been cooking up recently?

Monday, 24 September 2012

full of light and silver

Are you enjoying the new series of Downton Abbey? Sunday evenings once more have a rhythm to them.

'I must agree with you when you speak of beautiful furniture. Who does not enjoy food upon shining tables with glass full of light and silver - Ah! ....'the sensation of the fingers of a well-polished silver-spoon!'
'But,' he said dramatically, 'what shall happen when the tables no longer shine, when those who clean them are taken from you and there is no time to sit and polish spoons?'... 
'Then how terrible to see the table dull, to see, perhaps scratches, to know you cannot preserve the beauty you enjoy, because there is no time in the day for so much. No, no,' he went on, 'that shall not happen, that must not. Silver and shining mahogany and bright glass must remain in memory beautiful, and not be seen in actuality smeared and unkept. I like better to have this table' - he smote the deal with vigour - 'which is so clean, and to see my good friend en casserole, rather than to have it made lordly and perhaps cold in a silver dish not well cleaned!' Jocelyn Playfair A house in the country

I think this story line might be one hear more of this season. 

Friday, 21 September 2012

gloriously, irresponsibly happy

A quote for Friday...

'However, to-day she was gloriously, irresponsibly happy. The stale rolls tasted delicious out here under the trees, the sun was warm on her hair, and a little bubble of pleasure burst in her throat...' Antonia White Frost in May

Wishing you all moments, and more, of glorious, irresponsible happiness this weekend.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

suggestion of the haphazard

It's London Fashion Week and I've really loved reading all about it on my Twitter feed, funny that a few weeks ago my Twitter feed was all Olympics and Paralympics

'She had slightly more than average height, and was very dark and slim, with large Laurencin eyes and the negligent grace of the trained athelete...
Her clothes were incomparable, with just that suggestion of the haphazard which raised them high above the mere chic of the mannequin.
Her character was a lovely harmony of contending virtues - she was witty and tender-hearted; passionate and serene, sensual and temperate, impulsive and discreet.' Evelyn Waugh Vile Bodies

Oh to wear this dress next year - with the yellow shoes.

Friday, 14 September 2012

And meanwhile

One of the lovely books I read this summer was A Favourite of the Gods by Sybille Bedford re published by Daunt Books.

'Anyhow who is this ideal husband of yours? Where is he?'
'He isn't an ideal husband, he is just a man I should be proud to marry.'
'Have you met him?'
'No. Not even in fiction. I have no idea what he'll be like. But I shall know when we meet.'
'That sounds like love.'
'So much is,' said Constanza.
'And meanwhile, darling, you had better take me.'
'Meanwhile,' she said, 'is for people who do not know when to wait.'
Sybille Bedford A Favourite of the Gods

Do you have a fictional character you'd like to love, be loved by and spend your life with?

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

bobbed and nodded

Now it's September and school has started again I'm ready for Autumn. Over the past few years I've collected an assortment of berets that I wear. Partly through having short hair they keep my head warm and also they stop hair frizzing when it's that annoying damp drizzle, not enough for an umbrella but enough to ruin one's hair.

'they were both wearing hats like nothing on earth, which bobbed and nodded as they spoke.' Evelyn Waugh Vile Bodies

I spied some lovely ones in Marks and Spencers but for the purpose of this post...


What will you be wearing on your head this autumn? 

Friday, 7 September 2012

scurry along

Having had a glorious rest I'm now back into the commuting. My journey is fine, even better if it could be a little shorter. It's open air, no tunnels, apart from when we go under the Thames at Greenwich, and I tend to get a seat.

'Miss Catherine Birch trotted through the lobby of the ministry where she was employed, automatically waved her pass at the doorman, and joined the hurrying throng of men and women pouring down the London street towards the bus stops and tube stations. Their haste was contagious. she began to scurry along as though a vitally important evening lay before her.' Mollie Panter-Downes It's the Reaction in Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime stories of Mollie Panter-Downes

How do you travel home from work?

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

gold-fluttering trees

I'm going to miss pottering in the garden with no sense of time now I'm back to school. But the sweet peas are still hanging in and autumn is just around the corner.

'The window looked out on to flower beds, a tangle of Michaelmas daisies, late dahlias, hanging heavy, and shaggy little asters. Then there came a lawn strewn with yellow leaves with a broad path beyond and a row of gold-fluttering trees.' Katherine Mansfield Widowed in Something childish but very natural


How is your garden today?

Friday, 31 August 2012

The Month of August

Continued with watching the Olympics. A lot.
With the news that the window restorers were not starting meeting up with a dear friend for a mooch and then lunch at Cocomaya on the Kings Road.
Quiet, as in not doing much, noisy as in lots of banging, days around the house as the downstairs windows were restored.
Meeting dear print making friends for our annual visit to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition. This time we discussed the Olympics as well as art and life.
A weekend of Olympics. Watching it on television, going to Potters Field to watch it on a big screen and the next day cheering the Women's marathon in the rain.
A lovely week of friends to lunch, visiting school friends and university friends in Sevenoaks, meeting friends for lunch out on the Southbank, pottering in the house, reading all sandwiched in between watching the Olympics.
Meeting a friend for Monday night tapas and rose at Jose. Then the next day meeting a dear friend for lunch at Mishkins a mooch through Covent Garden including Kate Spade and the Chanel pop up then to Laduree for macarons and tea.
Off to France to stay chez Mama and Papa Warmth. Drinking delightful wine, a Sunday mooch at a local brocante, a return visit to La Borne a favourite pottery place, the book town of La Charite, a paddle in La Loire as it was so hot. On to Amboise to view the chateau and Clos Luce where Leonardo de Vinci lived. An anniversary drive back through France - that included sat nav taking us along the Boulevard Peripherique.
Productive days around the house. Destroying the bamboo, clearing the pond and stripping the wallpaper in the front room. Interspersed with drinks at The Railway, learning alot more about Edward Munch at the Tate Modern and meeting The Brothers Warmth, plus wives, at PropStore for drinks and Wahaca for much needed food.
The final days of school holidays going into school for the morning to prepare for September.
Really feeling that autumn is coming - socks on!
And we finish the month of August at the Olympic Park cheering on the ParaOlympics.

Baking that Banana Bread again.
Reading Mrs Bridge by Evan S. Connell - oh the ending. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie, The Report by Jessica Francis Kane, A World of Love by Elizabeth Bowen, A Favourite of the Gods by Sybille Bedford.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

late August mornings

I'm eeking out summer. One last wear of my favourite white summer dress, enjoying Orange Fizz on my nails for maybe one more day, one last BBQ and a chilled glass of rose before the desire for red wine starts.

"These late August mornings smelt of autumn from day-break til the hour when the sun-baked earth allowed the cool breezes to drive back the then less heavy aroma of threshed wheat, open furrows, and reeking manure. A persistent dew clung sparkling to the skirts of hedgerows...
But the midday hours were free of the wisps of autumn mists... and the season showed every sign of going back to July. High in the sky the sun sucked up the dew...A succession of fine days followed calm, windless, and cloudless... days so divinely akin to each other that Vinca and Philippe, at peace, almost believed the year to be ending at its sweetest moment, softly held in check by an August that would last forever." Colette Ripening Seed

What are you doing to make August last forever? Or are you itching for September?

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

A World of Love by Elizabeth Bowen

As you know this blog has very few book reviews but having read a World of Love by Elizabeth Bowen my mind was a whirl of thoughts and so rather than keep these thoughts muddled in my mind I thought I'd scribble them here.

Picked up in a second hand bookshop, having heard Elizabeth Bowen's name mentioned on many blogs. From reading the back cover I thought I'd be reading letters of love, oh how wonderful a slim book of love letters. Nothing like it and probably one of the reasons why it took a second attempt to read it. The first time I was commuting and it was a slow forty page read until I decided this was a book to linger over, to let the words roll around inside me, a holiday book.
It is a holiday book, a summer holiday book. When the air around you is hot and stifling. It fits the claustrophobic feel of this book. Minutes, hours, days, months and years to fill. The scene with Lilia, Fred and the letters felt like the rain had come, the atmosphere calmed and all could begin again. But then as you hope a storm will clear the air - this one doesn't.
This book journeyed with me on holiday to rural France with temperatures of 37 degrees. I felt that my view was the French equivalent of this Irish landscape. Staying in a cool house with cool stone walls reminded me of Montefort. A place where everyone knows your movements, business and sometimes even thoughts yet somehow the walls are thick and hold secrets. I finished reading with the sound of two men manually transferring logs with a wheelbarrow in the strong late morning heat  seemed appropriate and fitting.

Throughout I kept beginning the thought 'This could be a lovely quote to store for the blog' but these words were never very long - so often punctured by chance, a sour note or observation.

I shall read another Elizabeth Bowen but feel a rest from her is needed, especially if written with as much unsaid emotion as this. If these are my thoughts on this Elizabeth Bowen what would you recommend as my next read?

Friday, 24 August 2012

he met her eyes

Whilst on holiday we celebrated our third wedding anniversary. 

'"Who has brought into unity those who were sundered, and hast ordained for them an indissoluble bond of love" - how profound these words are, and how well they correspond to what one feels at this moment' thought Levin. 'Does she feel the same as I do?'
And, turning, he met her eyes.
And by the look in those eyes he concluded that she understood it as he did...
...she had almost no understanding of the words of the service and did not even listen during the betrothal. She was unable to hear and understand them: so strong was the one feeling that filled her soul and was growing stronger and stronger. That feeling was the joy of the complete fulfilment...' Leo Tolstoy Anna Karenina


Wednesday, 15 August 2012

a holiday

'In the radiance and the silence, she ran on the vast expanse of hard, smooth sand, beside herself with joy. Ah, when you only have a holiday once in a while, what a happiness it is! Each golden minute had to be held and perfected before it was let go.' Dorothy Whipple High Wages


The bags are packed, the car is piled high and we're off to France for our summer holiday.
See you soon x

Monday, 13 August 2012

Just as it promised

The end of last week we had perfect August days.

Just as it promised
The early morning sun entered between the curtains
And a slanting, saffron streak
Reached the sofa.

The sun's hot ochre 
Covered the near-by woods, the village houses,
Boris Pasternak Dr. Zhivago

This feels like the corner to laze with the early morning sun whilst reading...

Friday, 10 August 2012

faded penciled notes

One of the books I've enjoyed having the time to read this holiday is Mrs Bridge. But oh my the ending. This passage has been me this week enjoying preparing for aunt Violet and my parents for lunch today and then friends for supper this evening.

"...she went to the cupboard where the old recipe books were stored.... Mrs Bridge began looking through them, seeing pencil notations in her own handwriting, scarcely legible anymore. Her husband liked more pepper in this, no bay leaves in that - whatever he wanted and whatever he did not like was expertly registered in the margins, and as she turned through these recipes she thought how strangely intimate the faded penciled notes remained; they brought back many scenes, many sweet and private memories; they brought back youth." Evan S. Connell Mrs Bridge

My recipes books do have faded and splattered pencil notes in them, about who they've been cooked for, whether they were adapted, how they turned out. They do not have any comments about how Warmth likes his food though!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

clotted-cream clouds

"A lilac band of heat haze spread all along the horizon line, and out of this dim region a few upward-curling, clotted-cream clouds had half emerged, got caught in the pink sunset rays, and remained suspended, voluptuous-looking and completely motionless, all through dinner time." Julia Strachey Cheerful weather for the wedding

The drinks are poured, the candles are lit and any moment the food will be ready. 
Shall we sit and enjoy the sunset?

Monday, 6 August 2012

teasing complexity

Whilst on holiday I finally shared this blog with mother, Hello! Whilst chatting on the 'phone mums mentioned how much she was enjoying Rose Tremain's Music and Silence. I knew there were a couple of quotes not yet used from this book, stored in my old quote books. So as a way of welcoming a new reader and of putting the old quotes previously stored on paper.

"As they part, both men reflect upon all that might have been said... and yet was not said; and this knowledge of what so often exists in the silences between words both haunts them and makes them marvel at the teasing complexity of all human discourse." Rose Tremain Music & Silence


Friday, 3 August 2012

decanters, jugs, beakers and glasses

If ever an image and passage went together these two do.

'... down the path which led from the magna domus to the tennis court, a trolley with rubber wheels, also laden with decanters, jugs, beakers and glasses. Within the porcelain and pewter jugs were tea, milk and coffee, and within the Bohemian cut-glass decanters, beaded with pearls of moisture, was lemonade, fruit juice and skiwasser - this last a thirst-quenching drink made of water and raspberry syrup in equal measures, with the addition of a slice of lemon and a few grapes.' Giorgio Bassani The Garden of the Finzi-Continis

Shall we all just stop and meet at the tennis courts at 4pm for a skiwasser?

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

The Month of July

Mama and Papa Warmth to lunch, a walk around the garden and a lovely catch up.
Meeting a friend and having the opportunity of seeing the Olympic rings over Tower Bridge whilst eating a pizza at Strada.
Friday night mooching in Selfridges with a dear friend, exploring the beauty halls, the fashion, the home ware and then resting with a beautiful glass of rose and some snacks on the roof garden. Somehow it did stay dry though the blankets in buckets were most welcome by the end of the evening.
Celebrating Warmth's birthday with friends to stay. A BBQ with so much meat that the only pudding was Warmth's Birthday cake - all he wanted was a Gingernut loaf from his childhood.
Watching Murray in the Wimbledon final.
Meeting a friend on a soggy Thursday for drinks at The National Theatre at Propstore pop up bar. The Southbank is looking so wonderful it just needs dry weather for everyone to be able to stand out and enjoy.
A sad Saturday of meeting a dear friend for a farewell afternoon tea at Fortnum&Mason, then a slow mooch up Bond Street window gazing before going to leaving drinks for another friend. Both lovely times but I do wish they weren't leaving.
Hurrah the last day of term, an end of year social in the hall with huge vats of curry from a local restaurant.
My birthday gift to Warmth was a Eurostar trip to Paris.
An earlyish start the next day to cheer on the Olympic Torch as it went down both ends of our road. Then off to dear friends of Warmth's for a BBQ and catch up.
A lovely, lazy sunny Sunday ending with a BBQ in the garden.
First day of the summer holidays and the sun in all its glory shone. Popping into school and meeting a dear friend for her birthday. I'd suggested Inn the Park but alas Beach Volleyball scuppered those plans. So we found a great lunch deal at Maze where we had a cooling glass of fizz, a four course taster, coffee and then a tour of the kitchen. A delicious and lovely way to start the holidays.
Off to Kew to cheer on a friend who'd been nominated to for the Torch Relay. Oh it was hot but what fun it was. Spending a lazy day in Kew. Cooling lime and sodas in a shady pub garden and then to Ask pizza a whole group of us, plus the Olympic Torch.
Sitting in the shade by Blackheath pond meeting Rachel for lunch, book mooching and gentle chatting.
And then to watch the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games. It was amazing. The whole Olympics are amazing and in fact I felt like just writing this sentence for The Month of July as it surpasses everything else this month, yes even Paris.
A family party with fun games in the garden, lots of delicious food but not quite enough Olympic watching.
Sunday lunch with mama and papa Warmth the Olympics were on all the time.
The month finished with Mother coming up for a day of gardening.
Lots of cakes baked for school Fun Day and the cake stall. Lemon Drizzle and iced star biscuits were the biggest success. Lots of fairy cakes baked and a banana loaf. A different banana loaf with added seeds - hoping this one doesn't sink.
Books read Illyrian Spring by Ann Bridge, Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard. The first of my new birthday Vogue subscription and The Mirador, dreamed memories of Irene Nemirovsky by her daughter, by Elisabeth Gille.
Are you enjoying the Olympics?

Friday, 27 July 2012


London by A.S.J. Tessimond (1902-1962)

I am the city of two-divided cities
Where the eyes of rich and poor collide and wonder;
Where the beggar's voice is low and unexpectant,
And in the clubs the feet of servants are soft on the carpet
And the world's wind scarcely stirs the leaves of The Times.

I am the reticent, the private city,
The city of lovers hiding wrapped in shadows,
The city of people sitting and talking quietly
Beyond shut doors and walls as thick as a century,
People who laugh too little and too loudly,
Whose tears fall inward, flowing back to the heart.

I am the city whose fog will fall like a finger gently
Erasing the anger of angles, the strident indecorous gesture,
Whose dusk will come like tact, like a change in conversation,
Violet and indigo, with strings of lemon streetlamps
Casting their pools into the pools of rain
As the notes of the piano are cast from the top-floor window
Into the square that is always Sunday afternoon.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Paris in July

Paris in July started very slowly but then sped along. I managed to read Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard and The Mirador, Dreamed memories of Irene Nemirovsky by her daughter, Elisabeth Gille.
The best part though was our day trip to Paris for the day in the month of Paris in July.
It was my birthday gift to Warmth and was fortunate enough to be joining him.

A brutal alarm at 5.00am so we could catch the train and tube to Kings Cross St. Pancras ready for the 7.30am Eurostar to Paris. A snooze, a good book and a queue for coffee.

We walked to Monmartre from Gard du Nord and had an explore of Sacre Coeur, the stained glass windows were a delight.

Then a lovely meander through the streets of Monmartre, a stop for a croque monsieur and plotting castles in the air where a daydream apartment would be.

Semi seriously thinking about coming for a night in December for Christmas shopping and staying in this area.

A quick hop on the Metro. A glimpse of the Tour Eiffel from the Tuileries Gardens.

A walk along the Seine glimpsing, Paris Plage then to Musee D'Orsay (two for the price of one with our Eurostar tickets.) Discovering a new artist, Odilon Redon.
Odilon Redon

Truly time for a late lunch now. Searching for a  Luxe Guide recommended restaurant led us to rue St. Honore. Although our walk took a long time I enjoyed gazing in shop windows and along streets that together we would never walk through. We popped into Colette, a shop I've read much about. A glimpse at Annick Goutal's windows. Finally we found a lovely place for lunch, sitting outside with our Orangina and steak. Then up and onto another walk, crossing over the Seine again and to the Left Bank to search for a Luxe recommended place L'Heure Gourmande.     

We ordered a cafe, a chocolate tart, a chocolat ancienne and assorted dry cakes. The waiter came up to check the same person hadn't ordered the chocolate tart and the chocolat ancienne. A delightful sit in this cafe. The place where one would possibly daydream of resting and reading if fortunate enough to live in Paris. 

Repleat with flavour and food we then stirred ourselves. Walking through Ile de France, wishing I could remember more of Marie Antoinette's life from the biography I read. A hop on the Friday evening commuter metro to Gard du Nord for a biere and vin rouge before boarding our return journey.

A most lovely day, talking about the previous time we visited together on our first holiday, enjoying the sights and senses of having the day here and plotting when we'll return and what we'll do.

Thank you Karen and Tamara for hosting another wonderful Paris in July