My Blog List

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

A visit to Persephone Books

When I was in London last week, I went to my favourite bookshop, Persephone Books. It is in the delightfully named Lambs Conduit Street, WC1. It's a small shop, but the shelves are packed with pearl grey paperbacks, all of which are reprints of neglected novels, diaries, poetry and cookery books, mostly by women from the early to mid 20th century. My favourite so far is High Wages by Dorothy Whipple, the story of an independent young woman who sets up her own dress shop.

What I most love about the book design is the fact that they are lined with patterned endpapers, the designs taken from vintage textiles.

You can buy postcards, and even some reproduction fabrics, inspired by old designs. Or, help yourself to a free magazine (below).

The shop is at 59 Lambs Conduit Street, London WC1N 3NB or visit to see the catalogue. 
PS Welcome to my new followers!

Monday, 27 February 2012

Jubilee party

I've joined our village Diamond Jubilee party committee. Whether or not you are a monarchist, I think a day which brings a community together can only be a good thing, which is why I wanted to get involved. We are having a big picnic at the cricket field. I have suggested running an  exhibition of 1950s memorabilia and artefacts in a small marquee. I'm going to put an appeal in our newsletter, asking people to lend their items for the afternoon. I'm sure I might have a few things of my own to contribute, too :)

I took these snaps at a recent Sainsburys press launch. They have some wonderful British produce and pretty decorative bits and pieces to celebrate the Jubilee. The styling at the launch was pure vintage! 

Sunday, 26 February 2012

A wild goose chase (with a happy ending)

Fired up by last weekend's visit to a stately home open garden, I spotted another one in the local newspaper this week, and I decided  that I would go. It was a bit further afield, and I thought I knew where it was, but as I have an appalling sense of direction, I set the sat nav to make sure I didn't waste a precious minute. Forty five hair raising minutes later and I found myself on an industrial estate, sandwiched between a maze of dual carriage ways, two miles from the centre of Northampton, and my pesky nav was telling me that I had arrived at my destination. I think not! With thoughts of my cream tea and floral shots fading fast, I punched in our home address and turned the car around, feeling really cheated. I'd almost arrived home when I saw one of the distinctive yellow NGS signs in our nearest market town. Yes! A garden....and rather a sweet one it was, too.

It nestles amidst some beautiful stone Georgian houses, with beautiful old walls and slated roof tops visible all around. 

Back home in time to do some much needed work in my own garden, too. So the day was rescued after all!

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Spring colour

Today is full of chores as well as being taxi-Mum, but just time to take five, grab a quick cup of tea and share these beautiful tulips. Who would have thought that a routine trip to Aldi would deliver such an unexpected burst of colour? 

Friday, 24 February 2012

A new issue

The latest issue of the magazine has just been delivered. I always like to sit down with a cup of coffee, look through and think about what we did well and what we could improve or do better next time. I am very pleased with our cover this month. It's an original design by a local artist, Sam Purcell. Here it is in all its glory:

I know I always like to read about people, so we also included a profile of Sam and her inspirations.

Sam has the cutest dog ever, Lottie (above) who also loved posing for our photographer, Lesley Anne Churchill. This issue also included a piece about Heirloom recipes, which is an idea I started kicking around on the blog a few weeks ago:

You can read an e-version of the magazine at We try to mix advertising features (we are a free magazine so we rely on advertising to survive) with some general interest articles 
Now it's on with the April issue. I love doing the Easter one as there are so many pretty visuals around. 

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Charity shop love

Although I work, I don't often go 'to work,' as my daily commute is just down the corridor and into my study. Most of the people on the local magazine that employs me are freelance, and are also home workers. Once in a while, we do get together, and yesterday was one of those times. We had a good meeting, and I was meandering back to the car park via the five charity shops that are on my route (as you do), and it was one of those rare golden days when you see lots of wonderful things all at once. 
Firstly, the lady in the Cancer Research shop was just unpacking a suitcase full of fabric scraps and craft materials. She was very excited about it and so was I, and my rummage resulted in these pieces for patchwork. A lovely little lot for £1 (particularly loving the green and pink rosey print in the foreground).

Then, in Help the Aged I was just reaching for the green glass vases (above) when a flash of pink caught my eye and I was across the shop like a rod of lightning. An Ikea Rosali rug was hanging forlornly between two sets of horrible curtains. This comes from the era of the revered Cath Kidston duvets with the paisley design and polka dots, probably about five or six years ago now. I could not wait to pay my £3.99 and get  it home and into the washing machine. It's now flapping away on the line in the sunshine, looking very pretty and fresh.

This colour combination makes me feel really happy.....

Sunday, 19 February 2012

Snowdrops on Sunday

I had an unexpected afternoon out. Younger son and husband were off at a football match, eldest son acquired an extra Sunday lunch shift at the local pub, so I found myself at a loose end. Then I remembered Snowdrop Sunday at a stately home about ten miles away, so I hopped into the car and set off. It was a stunning day here. Blue skies and no breeze at all.

We seem to have quite a few smaller stately homes in our area. Many are still inhabited and they just open up occasionally. It feels like being let in on a secret....this is Deene Park, Northamptonshire. This might be rather a long post as I took lots of photos!

It's an imposing house, with formal gardens surrounded by parkland. 

The formal gardens remind me of the setting for Atonement, by Ian McEwan (a brilliant evocation of a country house, if you haven't read it). I could imagine women in 1930s dresses and louche men smoking must be Atonement that planted the image in my mind as I was surrounded by elderly folk in fleeces and young families!

I love the doors-in-walls....and there were lots of them....

This one leads to the tea shop....

There was a fine display of snowdrops, of course, and some shy hellebores, crocus and early anemones.

Beyond the formal area, some wilder outreaches, all very beautiful.

I was very taken with this little house, presumably for the estate workers. It reminded me of a woodcutter's cottage in a fairytale.

The summer house was sweet, too.

I think this teapot topiary is a reference to the excellent Old Kitchen tea room. It was heaving, I don't think they had expected quite so many visitors. I had my tea and scone outside in the sunshine, but the interior was gorgeous. I really like these old storage boxes:

A roaring fire (not a very good shot, it was crowded and people were looking at me as if I was mad).

Just time for a final wander, before heading home.

My journey was picturesque. I went through the country lanes. Even the animals look to be enjoying the unexpected weather.

The open garden season is only just beginning. I can't wait for the next one!

Saturday, 18 February 2012


Once in a while, do you ever find yourself drawn to something that you know is not a very sensible, practical or particularly useful buy but you desperately want it anyway? Just such a thing happened to me in the Cambridge Cath Kidston store a couple of days ago. I spotted this skirt and immediately began trying to mentally list when and where I could wear it. The list was not very long. But I'm afraid that my heart won the battle over my head, and I bought it. I think I could eventually recycle it as a kitchen curtain, so my money won't be wasted, that's the beauty of the vintage look ;)

The small pencil case was a much more practical purchase....

I have a day of chores ahead, but I hope to find time to do a bit of this:

I'm doing up a little dolls' bed for my sale and I thought I would make a tiny patchwork quilt to go on top.

I'll let you know how I get on....

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Homespun Style

This lovely book arrived in the post yesterday. Homespun Style by Selena Lake, just published by Ryland, Peters and Small. It is a celebration of crafty, vintage and colourful interiors and I foresee many hours of browsing ahead. I had my nose buried in it for a couple of hours yesterday evening, and plan to sit down with it again today. I love colour, and this book is all about beautiful vibrant shades. 

Sometimes, these kinds of interiors books have rather obvious text, but not this one. It is full of ideas, inspirations and quick-to-achieve tips. The glorious photos, by Debi Treloar, are original, too, so you don't get a sense of deja vu. There are homes from around the world, including France and Scandinavia.

I especially love this interior (above). And this one....(and that table on the front cover)...

Gorgeous and highly recommended.