Wednesday, 27 November 2013

The Face

Our lovely Alice is five months old it is a delight to be with her and I'm only too aware of this precious year of getting to know each other before returning to employment. Blogging for me is just as much about reading and commenting on your blogs as it is posting here. I look at my 'phone all too much anyway and I really don't want Alice thinking I've a black oblong of a nose, so I'm ready to make the decision to stop blogging. If I read an amazing quote that I want to save for posterity then I will post it here, more so it's stored somewhere and I'm going to start tweeting short favourite quotes as I read them but apart from that this is the last one.

Mother sent me this just after Alice was born and it seems a fitting way to close.

'The swaddled infant lies on her rug. She is the centre of the adults' care, of their comings and goings. Above her a shaft of light dazzles. The blurry brightness sharpens around tinkling objects swinging back and forth, back and forth. These tinkling shapes are tethered to the familiar voice, the familiar hand, the familiar smell. She has no words for these marvels. They are magnificent - but they are not enough. Her legs kick in unison. She cries out; there is a rustling sound. Events happen to her and around her in an unbroken stream. Her arms reach out to touch the firmness of the murmuring shadow above her. She struggles for this shadow to come closer. The fragrance now envelops. She wonders: Am I part of this warm shadow, so that I am lifted up, it really is me doing the lifting?Will this flow of movement, sound and smell transform into the familiar face - the beloved Face - that makes sense of me?
We emerge after nine months with very few welll-formed instincts. Fresh from the womb, we have no chance of finding our own legs and going off in search of food. We are helpless. We are equipped mainly with a desire for the human face. Babies are primed to search for any human face, though in time they seek out the familiar special Face they recognise. The beloved Face is sought with more energy and vigour than anything else.
Watch a mother and baby greet each other as the baby is waking... 'Hello. There you are. It's wonderful to see you.' And the baby mirrors this delight back, as she learns. 'Yes, I am here. And I am very wonderful.' This Face is our building block.' Sarah Savage Joseph

Rachel & Alice

Thursday, 27 June 2013


Alice Emmeline
Born Saturday 15th June 2013
As Pooh would say
bisy, backson

Friday, 7 June 2013

a dress so flowery

'Miss Marriot tying up the clematis and wearing a dress so flowery that many foiled bees buzzed angrily round her for a moment before going on to the less deceiving columbines.' Mollie Panter-Downes It's the real thing this time in Good evening, Mrs Craven


I doubt I'll be wearing a dress like this.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

long mornings

'June came in with fields of white clover, and Catherine spent long mornings in the open, reading to Audrey whilst Adam slept and the sunny countryside slept too, mile after undistinguished mile, all about them. Swifts swung overhead, blue church spires pricked the distance, the scent of clover was solid on the windless air.' Elizabeth Cambridge Hostages to Fortune
In the blissful ignorance before TT is born I like to imagine sitting under our apple tree reading whilst TT sleeps or plays. If I manage it once with our current weather then I shall be content.

Monday, 3 June 2013

I am waiting

TT is due any day now, so we are waiting.

'the girl did not know what to do now - oh yes, she thought, I am doing something, I am waiting; but reason told her that waiting is not a thing to do. A wait is something being done to you. She thought of her mother in the railway station, but in that case the train had gone: you do not wait for what has already happened.' Elizabeth Bowen A World of Love

Enjoying the wait, but waiting.

Friday, 31 May 2013

The Month of May

May started with glorious blue skies, blossom appearing on the apple tree in our garden, green shoots appearing everywhere, wearing shoes without socks.
Painted toe nails - one of the advantages of being 30+ weeks pregnant is that I have to have a pedicure, there is no way I can reach my toes to paint them!
A delightful christening of godchild number six and catching up with dear friends.
Mother and Pops coming up for the day. First time cooking summer food, pottering in the garden together and enjoying the sunshine.
My last week at work before maternity leave - all happening at just the right time. The final day, cards from different classes and being sung to by the different classes in my team. Receiving some lovely gifts, including a nappy cake and then to Canary Wharf for pizza. Home very tired.
Off to Twin and the Blessings for a lovely day. A BBQ in the garden and practising putting on a baby sling with a doll.
Cooking Warmth the meal I cooked on the weekend we became engaged as a celebration for first day of maternity leave.
Mother and Pops coming up for what should have been a day of gardening, but the persistent rain meant we sorted out the linen for TT.
Meeting up with a dear friend for lunch at Peter Jones and then on to try to get ahead by buying cards and gifts for all the summer birthdays.
Days having a gentle rhythm of reading, eating, napping, preparing for TT, pottering in the garden, doing small jobs.
A very belated birthday pamper day with Twin and Mother at Eastwell Manor. So lovely to have a facial, laze in the rest room, float in the deserted pool, have a foot massage, chat and catch up.
Off into town for friend's birthday meal at Bambou. I was determined to stay for supper and not just the drinks part. This will probably be the last time we go out on a Saturday night together with no babysitter.
Meeting up with new NCT friends for lunch at The Station, then after a brief afternoon nap out to Dalys Wine Bar to catch up with old friends.
A very wet day in Sloane Square, hoping to enjoy looking at Chelsea in Bloom shop windows, instead hiding in Patisserie Valerie with a dear friend and then hopping to The Saatchi Gallery and stumbling across Festival des Metiers a Hermes exhibition.
A final pre baby hair cut and lunch with Mama and Papa Warmth.
Good friends for a takeaway curry - we've finally found a good local takeaway Indian.
Pops' 70th birthday celebrations. Nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, aunts and immediate family. Thirty in all and the sun shone so magnificently that we spent the whole day outside, suntan lotions necessary.
A lovely Bank Holiday Monday - eating supper outside. Then the next day it rained and rained...
Quickly, or as quickly as I move at the moment, popping to Lambs Conduit Street to Persephone to buy Twin's birthday gift and then deciding I did have time to pop in Ben Penreath, even though I was then late meeting up with dear old colleagues at our favourite restaurant The National Portrait Gallery Restaurant. Lovely to see the views of London in daylight.

Finally finished Restoration by Rose Tremain - quite unlike her other books I've read.  It was a long slow slog. Speeded through Cocktails under the tree of forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller and The Rain before it Falls by Jonathon Coe. Baked this lemon drizzle cake for NCT ladies day, Hummingbird's Peanut butter and chocolate biscuits. A Ricotta and Lemon Cake, to use up left over ricotta, for Twin and Blessings.

The last day in May Twin and the blessings up and this also means the last month without a bundle of baby in our lives...

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

glowed with flowers

Our final Jane Eyre floral spring quote.

'that bright May shone unclouded over the bright hills and beautiful woodland out of doors. Its garden, too, glowed with flowers: hollyhocks had sprung up tall as trees, lilies had opened, tulips and roses were in bloom; the borders of the little beds were gay with pink thrift and crimson double daisies; the sweetbriars gave out, morning and evening, their scent of spice and apples;' Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre
I've the first bud creeping on my roses and look forward to a summer of roses and sweet peas.

Friday, 24 May 2013

muffins and meringues

Even without the arrival of TT this summer is a summer of parties. It starts this weekend celebrating Pops' 70th, then at some point TT will arrive, at the end of June Mama and Papa Warmth celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary and then the end of July is Granny Warmth's 90th. In between all these large parties are lots of birthdays.

''...Masked parties, Savage parties, Victorian parties, Greek parties, Wild West parties, Russian parties, Circus parties, parties where one had to dress as somebody else, almost naked parties in St. John's Wood, parties in flats and studios and houses and ships and hotels and nightclubs, in windmills and swimming-baths, tea parties at school where one ate muffins and meringues and tinned crab, parties at Oxford where one drank dark brown sherry and smoked Turkish cigarettes, dull dances in London and comic dances in Scotland and disgusting dances in Paris...' Evelyn Waugh Vile Bodies

What's your favourite kind of party?

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

breathing scents of roses

I've been having such an enjoyable potter in the garden last week and over the weekend. The roses aren't out yet but the buds are there and on Sunday the sky was glorious. I'm excited for the summer ahead.

'The garden was peaceful, breathing scents of roses and stocks. The sky was glorious as if a flight of angels had just passed over, sweeping wings of gold from end to end.' Dorothy Whipple Someone at a distance

How is your garden?

Friday, 17 May 2013

the friendship formed

As our due date gets closer we wonder what sex TT will be, who TT will look like, what their and our hopes and fears will be together.

'... she learned to know him, they learned to know each other, and she discovered with great delight that one does not love one's children just because they are one's children but because of the friendship formed while raising them.' Gabriel Garcia Marrquez Love in the Time of Cholera


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

pink and mauve wildflowers

I think we could safely say we're in late spring, or even early summer, so this passage about Russia in late spring 1910 is timely.

Never had nature been so flamboyant; its vibrant freshness was like a satin-lined jewel box containing a precious stone corroded from within by a black chancre. Copses of beech with silvery trunks and tender green foliage engulfed dilapidated manor houses with roofs collapsing on abandoned rooms and broken windows, shutters torn asunder. The wheat, which was just beginning to turn golden, intermingled with the tall grasses of the steppes and with pink and mauve wildflowers, undulating around half-rotted isbas that crumbled on the edge of the muddy pools below, above which loomed ancient willow trees whose branches dangled into the water, filled with brambles that no one bothered to prune.' Elisabeth Gille Mirador


I love the order and chaos of nature, and thinking about our garden even though it had  been neglected for at least one summer the roses still bloomed, the hydrangeas revealed, the apple tree blossomed and produced fruit nature keeps going it seems.. No matter what else is going on around.

Monday, 13 May 2013

a goodly smell

Today is the first day of my maternity leave, and I'm looking forward to leisurely delicious breakfasts. No more branflakes at 6.30am.

'The breakfast had a goodly smell to it. There were croissants, and two fresh rolls, and twists of very yellow butter, and a jar of honey, and a steaming pot of coffee. There was also a new packet of Toblerone chocolate and three sucettes on sticks, all of them different colours. He ate all the sucettes and half the Toblerone, before he started on his breakfast.' Daphne Du Maurier The Parasites


Thursday, 9 May 2013

hoping soul

So, our due date is one calender month from today....

'The exact science of one molecule transformed into another - that Mabel could not explain, but then again she could not explain how a foetus formed in the womb, cells becoming beating heart and hoping soul.' Eowyn Ivey The snow child


Tuesday, 7 May 2013

subsequent eccentricities

'She wore green sandals, which fact in itself is enough to explain any of the subsequent eccentricities in her conduct. Green as a Cornish sea they were, flat as a Cornish beach at low tide, and decorated on the toes with a chaste cut out design.' Stella Gibbons A young man in rags from Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm

Oh to be walking along a Cornish beach with the sand between my toes today...

Friday, 3 May 2013

April advanced to May

I know we're only three days in but so far May has been glorious. The gardens are coming alive, blossom is everywhere, the skies are blue and there is sunshine. Long may it continue.

'April advanced to May - a bright serene May it was; days of blue sky, placid sunshine, and soft western or southern gales filled up its duration. And now vegetation matured with vigour; Lowood shook loose its tresses, it became all green, all flowers;its great elm, ash, and oak skeletons were restored to to majestic life; woodland plants sprang up profusely in its recesses; unnumbered varieties of moss filled its hollows, and it made a strange ground-sunshine out of the wealth of its wild primrose plants; I have seen their pale gold gleam in overshadowed spots like scatterings of the sweetest lustre. All this I enjoyed often and fully, free, unwatched, and almost alone;' Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre


Here's wishing you wherever you live a bright serene May

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Month of April

A quiet day pottering around the house, wishing the weather was warmer so I could potter in the garden. I'm missing the garden.
Meeting dear dear old work colleagues for lunch at Cote.
Another lunch date with a dear friend this time at Cantina Vinopolis - a delicious mushroom gnocchi.
Another day out of the house whilst the windows are being done. Meeting a dear friend, oldest godson and siblings at Chelsea Physic Garden. Oh it was bleak, Cold wind, blizzard of snow, no blue skies, cold cold cold.
After the day before being so cold meeting a friend at Greenwich park for a picnic was rearranged for soup and cake in her home.
Meeting Twin for a day out together, my first visit to Kensington Palace. A lovely lunch in the cafe, we couldn't quite stretch to the Orangerie, and then a short walk in the park. The sun shone, the wind was blowing elsewhere, it was wonderful.
Hanging out the washing to dry - a simple pleasure, but oh so wonderful.
Warmth had a few days off work so we went to visit Granny Warmth in Worthing, finally pottered in the garden, bending down is getting harder. Arranging the nursery for TT - it all feels more real now the room is ready-ish. Lunch with Mama and Papa Warmth.
Meeting Rebecca and Gemma at Liberty's Tea Room for a lovely catch up.
The final day of the holidays and a trip to school for some work and then dodging the April showers to potter in the garden a little more.
At the weekend I went away with university friends to a hotel spa which was lovely. We were last all staying together twenty years ago. We had afternoon tea, lovely swims in the pool, a wet walk in the grounds, relaxed evening drinks, a scrumptious breakfast, another swim, lunch and then farewell. It was lovely to spend time together and truly catch up, not just fleeting lunches together.
Home to the start of our NCT classes on Sunday night and then following on from that a tour of the hospital labour wards which was really interesting. Suddenly it all seems more real and imminent. Especially returning to work after the two week break to quite a few 'you've grown' comments, and feeling a lot more tired than I did before the holidays.
Dear friends popping round for a mid week takeaway as they were in the area.
Friday night mooching in Liberty's and then meeting an old print making friend in Waterstones.
A wonderful spring Saturday of lemon curd on toast, pottering I'm the garden and hanging the washing out. Mama and Papa Warmth to supper, bringing with them two tops that Warmth and his brothers wore as babies.
A mid week pizza and salad with a dear friend.
A few days of glorious spring weather - just what we all needed.
Friday night pizza and ice cream, Saturday morning off to Pick Me Up to look at the prints. We bought two and were so tempted by many others, especially for TT.
Saturday evening off to great friends for supper and to stay over, brunch at their local cafe and then home and another long nap. A weekend of three day time naps can't be bad.

Books read French children don't throw food by Pamela Druckerman, Restoration by Rose Tremain.
 On the Kindle, read in the night, The Garden Party by Katherine Mansfield.

Friday, 26 April 2013

heart and limbs and mind

The only book from my Mr B's Reading Spa which I bought that I already knew about and knew I wanted to read was A Compass Error, the follow up to A Favourite of the Gods by Sybille Bedford. I didn't enjoy it as much as the first book but it was lovely to be transported to sunnier climes in the midst of such a dull early spring.

'She loved the shapes of bottles and of course the romantic names and the pictures of the pretty manor houses on the labels, and she loved the link with rivers and hillsides and climates and hot years, and the range of learning and experiment afforded by wine's infinite variety; but what she loved more than these was the taste - of peach and earth and honeysuckle and raspberries and spice and cedarwood and pebbles and truffles and tobacco leaf; and happiness, the quiet ecstasy that spreads through heart and limbs and mind.' Sybille Bedford A Compass Error

What will you be drinking this weekend?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

warm, eager, restless

Warmth very kindly bought me a Kindle, for my slightly sleepless nights, now and probably when the baby arrives. I'd thought that a Kindle with it's light would be a way for me to be able to find time to read. So far I'm downloading the free ones that I've already read, I'm sure I shall be tired so a re read maybe just right. Next one is Emma.

'That evening for the first time in his life, as he pressed through the swing door and descended the three broad steps to the pavement, old Mr. Neave felt he was too old for the spring. Spring - warm, eager, restless - was there, waiting for him in the golden light, ready in front of everybody to run up, to blow on his white beard, to drag sweetly on his arm. And he couldn't meet her, no; he couldn't square up once more and stride off, jaunty as a young man.' Katherine Mansfield An Ideal Family in The Garden Party.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

old-fashioned flowers

'He strayed down a walk edged with box, with apple-trees, pear-trees, and cherry-trees on one side, and a border on the other full of all sorts of old-fashioned flowers, stocks, sweet-williams, primroses, pansies mingled with southernwood, sweet-briar, and various fragrant herbs. They were fresh now as a succession of April showers and gleams, followed by a lovely spring morning, could make them: the sun was just entering the dappled east, and his light illuminated the wreathed and dewy orchard-trees and shone down the quiet walks under them.' Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre

Another reason for loving Jane Eyre - the flower and spring quotes.

Monday, 15 April 2013

she had changed her skin

We started our NCT classes last night so this quote felt right.

'After Molly's birth, Lorna lay on her side and gazed at the baby, and Molly stared back with wide-open eyes and the strange unearthly look of the newborn, as though, Lorna thought, she had just arrived from some mysterious place. But when Lorna got out of bed and crept over to the chest to get a glass of water she glanced at herself in the mirror and saw that she too had that look, she was not the person that she had been yesterday, she had changed her skin.' Penelope Lively Consequences

Thursday, 11 April 2013

mild serene spring day

This post was planned for the end of March but it was sent to draft until early April. There at least have been a few days with the possible hint mild serene spring days.

'It had been a mild serene spring day - one of those days, which towards the end of March or the beginning of April, rise shining over the earth as heralds of summer. It was drawing to an end now; but the evening was even warm...' Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre

And on such a day how lovely to sit outside and read...

Monday, 8 April 2013

It was a day

But this is more the reality.

'It was colder, as the woman said. The wind came in little gusts. It was a day to be inside somewhere, cosseted and loved; by a warm fireside, with the clatter of friendly cups and saucers, a sleepy cat licking its paws, a cyclamen in a pot on the windowsill putting forth new buds.' Daphne Du Maurier The Parasites


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

almond blossom in the garden

Let's daydream a little...

'When the first days of April come, something steals into the air and touches you upon the cheek, and the touch travels downwards to your body, and your body comes alive. The windows are flung open. The sparrows in St. John's Wood chatter, but the little sooty tree on the pavement opposite has a blackbird on its naked branch. Further down the road there is a house that has almond blossom in the garden. The buds are fat and luscious ready to burst.' Daphne Du Maurier The Parasites


Sunday, 31 March 2013

The Month of March

Started with Twin and The Blessings coming to visit. Giant meatballs were eaten, new magimix and  pie tin and cookery book used for Hummingbird Chocolate Pudding Pie, a visit to a newly discovered local park, hot cross buns for tea, delivery of more baby bits, much laughter and love.
Mama and Papa Warmth to lunch the next day and a repeat menu.
Off to supper with some dear friends and meet their two new adorable cats, Oskar and Bluebell. I attempted pistachio macarons, and apart from a sizing issue, they weren't too bad. Worth perfecting.
Then other great friends to lunch the next day. Lovely to catch up with them. Since we've moved to the other side of London it's harder to meet up with them, especially as we did used to live almost just round the corner.
The weather then regressed, well it hadn't ever reached spring. But minus eight and snow flurries are not what I wanted. At least there were blue skies and sunshine, even if it was cold. This sentence can be repeated at various intervals throughout the month of March, and looking at April through April too.
A quiet Saturday, just Warmth and me. So a cold brisk walk across the South Bank to see Lichtenstein at Tate Modern. We bought a print for TT's bedroom.
Sunday a high tea celebrating Mama Warmth's birthday with everyone.
A shall we/shan't we be going to Cardiff weekend. The postponed from the snow in January 40th had been rearranged. Yet at 9am it was snowing and settling with us. We thought we'd wait and see and thankfully it stopped so we started off much later. A lovely evening catching up with friends and we ended up leaving with a car seat. Then the drive home the next day. A lot of driving for a short time, but worth it.
A delightful. just because, gift from Warmth of a Kindle. I hope this will be the way for me to continue reading with a baby. I'm making the assumption that I will be up a lot in the night and hopefully this way I can read as well. I like the idea of re reading favourite books and reading good passages out to TT.
Managing through to the end of term. For a short term it most definitely was exhausting.
A lovely Easter weekend together. Preparing the room for TT, shopping, Mother and Pops coming
up to visit.
Today, Easter Sunday, we're off to Mortlake for Warmth Family Easter. Eating chocolate, cheering on the Boat Race and having a lovely family day.
Books read this month. a golden age by Tahmima Anam, Night Waking by Sarah Moss, one of my AOW bookswap books.
Baking - continuing with the loaf cakes. Banana, lemon or fruit. The above pistachio macarons and Nigella's Lemon Meringue Cake for Easter Saturday.

Wishing you all a Happy Easter x

Friday, 29 March 2013

a triumphantly plump chocolate hen

'We make the delicate liqueur chocolates, the rose-petal clusters, the gold-wrapped coins, the violet creams, the chocolate cherries and almond rolls in batches of fifty at a time, laying them out on greased tins to cool. Hollow eggs and animal figures are carefully split open and filled with these. Nests of spun caramel with hard-shelled eggs each topped with a triumphantly plump chocolate hen; piebald rabbits heavy with gilded almonds stand in rows, ready to be wrapped and boxed; marzipan creatures march across the shelves. The smells of vanilla essence and cognac and caramelized apple and bitter chocolate fill the house.' Joanne Harris Chocolat

Wishing you a happy Easter weekend. What will you be eating?

Monday, 25 March 2013

branches clotted with waxen blossom

'...she roamed zigzag across the garden, and getting out again through a gap, found herself facing the sealike uplands. Step quickening, she kept in close to the flank of the woods raggedly edging the river gorge. Some way along the elder grew leaning forward, its branches clotted with waxen blossom within themselves forming a cave. Heavy was the scent, rank the inside darkness which filtered through. The girl, having reached the spot, without hesitation parted the branches and dived between them.' Elizabeth Bowen A World of Love


Oh to dive into branches clotted with blossom.

Friday, 22 March 2013

Food was wonderful

One of the many rituals that distinguish the weekend, or holiday, to Monday to Friday is breakfast. Eating toast to be precise, in the week it's cereal.

'Audrey went on eating bread and butter and marmalade. It was exciting to eat. It had three tastes. The bitter jelly taste with the candied peel in it, the smooth taste of the butter, and the woolly taste of the bread. Food was wonderful.' Elizabeth Cambridge Hostages to Fortune
breakfast in bed

Yes, food is wonderful. If you're not working tomorrow what are you looking forward to?

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

soft spring sunshine

The herald of spring is wonderful in so many countries. Reading these spring thoughts in Australia, could be spring thoughts in many other countries.

'Thus I sat in burning discontent and ill-humour until soothed by the scent of roses and the gleam of soft spring sunshine which streamed in through my open window. Some of the flower-beds in the garden were completely carpeted with pansy blossoms, all colours, and violets - blue and white, single and double. The scent of mignonette, jonquils, and narcissi filled the air. I revelled in rich perfumes, and these tempted me forth. My ruffled feelings gave way before the delights of the old garden. I collected a number of vases, and filling them with water, set them on a table in the veranda near one of the drawing-room windows. I gathered lapfuls of the blossoms, and commenced arranging them in the vases.' Miles Franklin My Brilliant Career

How is spring in your corner of the globe?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Cold puffs of wind

'On a table in the bay window was a glass vase with a bunch of long-stalked narcissi in it. The flower-heads on their thin, giant stalks were no bigger than sixpenny pieces, and each had a frilly orange centre. One or two red dwarf tulips were stuck among the narcissi.
Cold puffs of wind from the partly opened window fidgeted all the flower-heads about...what must have been delicious to them was the fresh, sweet, springlike scent of the narcissi which went wafting round on the air upon each new puff of breeze from the windows.' Julia Strachey Cheerful weather for the wedding

What I love about this quote, and what makes it so British is the cold puffs of wind, wanting the windows open and the flowers. Reading about the flowers one would think of warm weather, oh but how we can be fooled when we open the door and realise yes we do still need to wear our coats.

Monday, 11 March 2013

riot of lilacs

I am desperate for warm spring to arrive, to be out in the garden. Even if it's not happening in real life, I can pretend it is in blog life, so the next few posts all have a spring flower theme.

'I can only remember the riot of lilacs that bloomed that spring in all the gardens, courtyards, and streets, and how they drove away the smell of winter.' Elisabeth Gille The Mirador


What drives the smell of winter away for you?

Friday, 8 March 2013

satisfied with tranquility

Today is International Women's Day over at Any Other Woman they're celebrating it by asking their readers to submit a post. I submitted a favourite quote, but then also wanted to post this.

'It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions beside political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel: they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.' Charlotte Bronte Jane Eyre
With love and action on International Women's Day x

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

a massed mountain of hyacinths

Cheerful Weather for a Wedding all takes place on 5th March so it seems appropriate to quote from it today.

'Mrs. Thatcham always kept a great number of potted flowers growing in this room, daffodils, fushias, hydrangeas, cyclamen. To-day, besides these, a massed mountain of hyacinths, pink, red and washed-out mauves of all sorts, stood on a table close by the fire, the steely-blue spring light from the window glittering upon each of the narrow waxen petals.' Julia Strachey Cheerful weather for the wedding
Not sure this is quite Mrs Thatcham's style, but I like it, maybe a few more vases like these dotted around the room.

Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Month of February

Warmth had the day off work to wait in for a new carpet to be laid. Now all we need for the front room is an over mantel mirror and some pictures.
The train to Canterbury to see Mother, a quiet and lovely weekend catching up and keeping warm.
Really enjoying going along to Pregnancy Pilates.
A quiet Friday evening mooching to the Tatty Devine shop to buy this and discovering it's in the online sale, wandering past MW Nails that I've read lots about, popping in on the off chance they had a space and having a lovely Friday night file and polish in their airport style salon. Still having time to pop to the MAC shop to buy a new eye shadow and then home. A very lovely Friday evening.
Meeting up with a dear friend to go to the Valentino exhibition at Somerset House followed by tea at Laduree. Perfect for a cold dreary Saturday.
Up early on Sunday as friends, with their four children, were coming to lunch and to very kindly drop off a whole load of baby bits and pieces.
A delicious Valentines Day meal cooked by Warmth of lamb shanks and chorizo.
Popping round to Mama and Papa Warmth expecting a cup of tea to be welcomed with afternoon tea of delicate sandwiches, scones, fruit loaf and lemon drizzle cake. Then off to meet Mother for a quick, and very light supper at Victoria, as she then went to meet Pops at the airport.
A wonderful family day on Sunday welcoming Pops back with a 'low key' turkey and trimmings. So lovely to see him, he to see bump, when he left three months ago there was nothing to see. Catching up on three months of our news and all he's experienced. Lovely to know that his stories will keep coming and being talked about.
Beginning the half term with my #bookswap delivery. I have so many wonderful books to read that I mustn't buy anymore.
Off to the Kings Road for a mooch and more importantly meet a dear friend for lunch, catch up and to learn more about babyhood at Pain Quotidian. It was almost like when we used to work together and would sometimes meet up there between visits.
Finally getting round to buying a food processor, so when I saw the latest Hummingbird Bakery book reduced in the shop it felt foolish to resist it.
Discovering a dainty patch of snowdrops, being able to hang out the washing and permanently having a vase of daffodils. Spring is coming and soon I'll be back out in the garden. I can't wait.
Then off to Poole Hotel du Vin for a few days rest. My it was cold. We wrapped up warm and the delicious soup at this deli warmed us. Gawping at the huge houses at Sandbanks, a brief and windy walk along the sandy shores, catching the chain ferry across the spit to Swanage for fish and chips, stopping off at a traditional sweet shop to buy iron rations for exploring Corfe Castle and each night being thankful that we were dining in the hotel's restaurant so we didn't need to venture out.
A lovely evening with Warmth's brother and wife at The Young Vic bar and supper at Ev.
Continuing with the Sunday bake, though the pear, raspberry and oat loaf was just too soggy, an apricot and marzipan loaf from The Great British Bake Off book and another lemon drizzle cake, with an extra lemon added for additional zing.
Reading The boy in striped pyjamas by John Boyne for my school course, finishing Diana Athill, Instead of a Book and really enjoying The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. Finishing off the month with The Parasites by Daphne du Maurier, one of my Mr B's Reading spa recommendations.

Monday, 25 February 2013

come what may

We're slowly gathering our thoughts on what we need for TT and as this increases, and my tummy it's all becoming more real. I'm very glad pregnancy is nine months.

'Lorna could not imagine this baby. The world is full of babies, but she had never much noticed them. In nine months time - no, less, there would be a baby that was of immediate personal relevance. Her baby, their baby. And she could not grasp the fact, she could not conjure up any baby. Her body was in a state of disorder: no monthly bleeding, swollen and tender nipples, she began to feel nausea. It was as though she had been taken over by an alien force, and was now headed in some unimaginable direction, programmed to bring this about, come what may.' Penelope Lively Consequences


Friday, 22 February 2013

promise of spring

Some of our days have really made me think, feel and know that Spring is around the corner, though a fling back to winter has now, predictably, happened. I wouldn't quite call those mornings 'balmy' but I have hung the washing out to dry and keep checking the garden for new life. The promise of spring is definitely out there.

'Soon there was the promise of spring. The almonds were out, the days were longer, the morning balmy. They opened all their windows; it was not a time to stay indoors and at noon they often took their food and wine to the watch tower and ate below its sheltering walls.' Sybille Bedford A Favourite of the Gods

How will you celebrate the promise of spring this weekend?

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

It's all a mystery

We welcomed Pops back this weekend. I'm not sure 10, 20, 40 years ago he could ever have imagined this journey.

'We never know what is going to happen, do we? Life is always throwing us this way and that. That's where the adventure is. Not knowing where you'll end up or how you'll fare. It's all a mystery, and when we say any different we're just lying to ourselves.' Eowyn Ivey The Snow Child


Friday, 15 February 2013

human history

Travelling by train to Canterbury, swooping along the English countryside and then mooching around our village.

'Great Warby was not a beauty-spot, but it had the charm of an unspoiled English landscape where people have lived for a thousand years and every foot of earth has its human history. Elaine loved the place, she could not think of any other part of the earth as home...' Stella Gibbons Sisters in Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm

This is how I feel. Where's your 'part of the earth as home'?

Monday, 11 February 2013

heart of girlhood

At the weekend I went to the Valentino exhibition. This feels like the room to dress in Valentino.

'but this room contained everything dear to the heart of girlhood. A lovely bed, pretty slippers... and in one corner a most artistic toilet set, and a wash-stand liberally supplied with a great variety of soap-some of it so exquisitely perfumed that I felt tempted to taste it. There were pretty pictures on the walls, and on a commodious dressing-table a big mirror... Hairpins, fancy combs, ribbons galore...' Miles Franklin My Brilliant Career


Thursday, 7 February 2013

In Greenery Street

This isn't going to become a pregnancy/baby blog, however there are a few pregnancy quotes that I've collected and as this is in many ways an indirect document of my life occasionally they'll be posted.

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


Monday, 4 February 2013

half an hour

Sometimes it's not even a whole sentence just a collection of words that stand out.

'Running up the stairs, with half an hour not to spare to have a bath,' Sybille Bedford A Favourite of the Gods

I love the idea of not having time, but still choosing to take a bath. 

Thursday, 31 January 2013

The Month of January

Started with seeing more than just a few inches of blue in the sky. Hurrah! Perfect weather cold, crisp. dry and blue for a New Year walk. Off to Oxleas Woods we went.
Having a lovely impromptu meet with a great friend along the Kings Road. A little sales mooching and a long sit and catch up in Grocer on Kings.
A day trip to Bath to Mr B's Delightful Reading Emporium for my reading spa, but you've read all about that.
A leisurely wake up and breakfast with mother and then a mooch to Blackheath together before saying goodbye.
A slow weekend - the most venturing to the cinema to see The Life of Pi. I'm sure I didn't jump that much when reading the book.
Then back to school after a lovely and relaxing holiday.
Ohh it began to get colder...
A lovely catch up supper at Rocket, and giving of the last Christmas gift.
Off to Mama and Papa Warmth's for a family gathering to celebrate Papa Warmth's birthday. This also is the occasion of the annual 'Card of the year'. Where we look at every card and firstly vote for the best and then the worst. Left over Christmas food is nibbled, the last of the mince pies eaten and then we read a Christmas section from Diary of a Nobody.
Catching up with a dear friend and our usual pizza, the final receiving of a Christmas gift
Our engagement anniversary and a hospital appointment for our 20 week scan. So, if all continues well there will be a mini Warmth or Joan born in early June. All is well and we're getting most excited, and a little bigger...
Then the snow came... and our weekend in Cardiff to celebrate a good friend's 40th birthday was postponed. So a weekend of wrapping up warm, walking to the shop to buy food, making soup, baking, re watching multiple West Wing, napping on the sofa. In fact it felt a little like the days just after Christmas - lazy and full of food.
Mama and Papa Warmth for Friday night supper, crumble felt like the only pudding to eat this week.
Saturday blue skies - oh what a welcome return.
Off to good friends for the night. Chinese takeaway, a lasagne for lunch, laughter and catching up together.
Baking loaf cakes in the cold weather. This Lemon Drizzle Cake - my it was tangy and delicious. Straight from the oven it would make a perfect pudding, then if any left as cake, trying to find the perfect flapjack recipe - do you have one? Lady Grey Fruit Loaf as the snow silently fell and one from the Great British Bake Off book an apricot and marzipan fruit loaf.

Monday, 28 January 2013

sprigs of winter jasmine

I think our days have been a little more than 'fine cold' but a post to help us look to spring never goes amiss.

'It was the middle of January now, a fine cold Wednesday morning. Ellen, who had half an hour off before serving lunch, came out of the porch in her old coat, the belt hanging, to cut sprigs of winter jasmine for the tables. Jasmine was all there was at present; soon there would be winter aconites and snowdrops, floods of gold and white under the trees; then daffodils, then primroses and violets...' Dorothy Whipple Someone at a distance

How is your garden? I miss pottering in it, but look forward to spring and the new life, but bought the first bunch of daffodils at the weekend.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

watch the snow settle

But then the urge to go outside becomes too much...

'Outside, the air was clean and cool against her face... She let the snow float around her, and then Mabel did what she had as a child - turned her face to the sky and stuck out her tongue. The swirl overhead was dizzying and she began to spin slowly in place. The snowflakes landed on her cheeks and eyelids, wet her skin. Then she stopped and watched the snow settle on the arms of her coat. For a moment she studied the pattern of a single starry flake before it melted into the wool. Here, and then gone.' Eowyn Ivey The Snow Child

How do you like to explore the snow?

Monday, 21 January 2013

pearl-blue clouds

It started Friday morning and then continued on and off all weekend...

'The snow fell all night. It fell without a sound and covered the frozen ground, and the dead leaves beneath the maple tree, and bowed the limbs of the evergreens, and sifted out of the high, pearl-blue clouds hour after hour. Mrs Bridge was awakened by the immense silence and she lay in bed listening.' Evan S. Connell Mrs Bridge

Lying in a warm bed with gorgeous blankets knowing it's snowing outside is one of the 
loveliest things.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Mr B's Delightful Reading Spa

The purpose for our day trip to Bath was to use a birthday gift. Some dear friends had clubbed together to buy me a Reading Spa. So after a lovely lunch we wound our way to Mr B's Delightful Reading Emporium. When I'd booked it I was asked what books I liked reading so that they could choose the right person to talk with me.
So snuggled up in a armchair in a cosy corner with a delicious brownie we began to talk. I was asked what type of books, authors I liked reading and why, any that I didn't like, interests outside of reading. She was really perceptive and clarified some thoughts for me on some of the types of stories that I specifically enjoy. Most importantly she really listened as the huge selection of books did fit, yet also expand my reading, some books were ones I'd already read and liked. She scurried away a couple of times returning with piles of books to talk through and choose from, you could tell from the discussions we had about these books that as a book shop they talked about books a lot. It felt at first that I said say "yes" to every single one suggested but that couldn't be done and so then it was easier to make decisions. I did have to remind myself that this was to expand my reading if they were all books on a list that I'd like to read then what was the point. It felt so decadent to be able to buy a small tower of books as I had the money to spend and not toss up between which ones to leave and which to take with me.

So, the books that I did buy.
Daphne du Maurier The Parasites
Alexandra Fuller Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
Sybille Bedford A Compass Error (the only one that I already knew and wanted to read having already read A favourite of the Gods)
Jonathon Coe The Rain Before It Falls
Tahmima Anam a golden age

A gift to mother for accompanying me Helen Castor She Wolves and for Warmth, as he was at work, Pietro Grossi Fists.

I a short list of some of the other books suggested that I'd like to remember:
Restoration by Rose Tremain (which I'll borrow from mother)
Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
The Village by Nikita Lalwani
All the stars electric bright by Ian Brecken

It really was a delightful experience and I strongly recommend it either to give, or to receive, or even if you are in Bath to pop into the bookshop and explore.

Monday, 14 January 2013

life flows tranquilly

Mother and I had a delightful day in Bath during the holidays. I'll post about it later but first of all this to put us in the mood

'Deltenham, the country town to which colonels and admirals retire on their pensions, stands in a bowl whose sides are green hills. When a visitor gets out of the train at Deltenham he notices at once the difference in the air: it is fresh and cold, and so it should be, blowing down as it does from those flat summits padded with ancient turf.
The town cannot be said to have fallen asleep in 1760, when most of it was built, because, even then, it was not fully awake. To-day , its life flows tranquilly through wide streets, past pale square Anne and Georgian houses, and pastry-cooks' shops, where the ageing daughters of very old generals sit eating eclairs from silver forks, quietly dying into the background of England's history.' Stella Gibbons Golden Vanity in Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm
silver forks

We didn't see any ageing daughters of very old generals but did have a lovely tea and cake to revive us.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Battle of Flowers

After the dark days earlier in the week some flowers.

'All autumn Mrs. Parmenter had run out between the showers and picked the asters, saying brightly that an old woman must be allowed to do something around the house. Opposition would hardly have been hysterical if she had offered to make the beds, but her tastes appeared to be floral. Now it was January and the snowdrops, and before you knew where you were, Mrs. Ramsay thought morbidly, it would be May and the tulips. Somehow she had never expected to spend the war having a Battle of Flowers with Mrs. Parmenter.' Mollie Panter-Downes Mrs Ramsay's War in Good Evening, Mrs Craven

Not quite sure what a Battle of Flowers would look like but in some ways I like the sound of it. Which flower would win?

Monday, 7 January 2013

a delightful little Tudor gem

'It was before lunch on a dark January day in the Ramsays' country cottage in Sussex. Just how dark January could be, Mrs Ramsay reflected gloomily, no one would ever know who had not spent it in a delightful little Tudor gem with a wealth of of old oak and several interesting features (such as the beam on which you knocked your head outside the bathroom).' Mollie Panter-Downes Mrs Ramsay's War in Good evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime stories of Mollie Panter-Downes

Hoping you have moments of light this January day.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Journey of the Magi

I don't know why, but I really love Epiphany. I look forward to going to an Epiphany service as much as a carol service. I think it reminds me that Christmas isn't quite over - well not just yet, and not to rush onto the next thing but to savour the season fully.  

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey
T. S. Eliot Journey of the Magi


Happy Epiphany to you x

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

tiny icicles chimed

'We celebrated the Russian New Year in Odessa. My grandmother, the sweet-natured Bella, had prepared a feast. We had an enormous meal preceded by zakuski - salmon, caviar, smoked sturgeon, salted cucumbers and pates of all types - washed down with vodka, followed by a series of dishes that combined traditional Russian Jewish cuisine with French and Russian recipes, from a pie made with carp to boiled chicken, accompanied by a series of wines, culminating in several bottles of champagne which we drank, as one should, so cold that tiny icicles chimed against the crystal glasses.' Elisabeth Gille The Mirador Dreamed memories of Irene Nemirovsky by her daughter.

Wishing you all a very happy new year x