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Saturday 30 April 2011

Another day, another wedding

We didn't join in a street party for the royal nuptials, but we had a big celebration lined up for the following day. A wedding in our extended family, and what a wonderful occasion it turned out to be. On a beautifully sunny day, a Routemaster bus took guests from the church to a stately home called Kelmarsh Hall, in Northamptonshire.
The bride travelled in this beautiful vintage Jaguar.

Photos on the lawn, and a chance to wander round the gorgeous gardens.

A blend of formal beds, and relaxed areas, bordering pastoral countryside, with horse chestnuts in blossom, white and purple lilac trees, and graceful willows. Old walled gardens, with mellow brick.

A country church just across the fields.

And plenty of places to sit and rest between chats, catching up with cousins, aunts and uncles.

Friday 29 April 2011

Steady progress

We're attempting to make inroads into the wild part of our garden (well, one of the wild parts, anyway). My husband laid some slabs over Easter, and today we were finishing them off. There's still plenty more tidying to be done, and we need to do some planting to soften the edges, but here is the before shot (below):

So, we have come quite a way already. Younger son is making a vegetable plot in front of the shed, and is anxiously awaiting the appearance of carrots and potatoes. 
Progress was slightly delayed today by a bit of royal wedding viewing. I can't understand how Mrs Middleton managed to keep it all together when she saw her lovely girl walking down the aisle. It was quite enough to set me off just seeing my elder son clambering into our old car in his Top Man finery for his school prom last night! A stiff upper lip is the answer, I guess. I never did master that one.
Finally, a sale update. The house is full of items which are on their way to the May Day stall. I hope I manage to sell something.

Tuesday 26 April 2011

Easy crafts

I can't stop making these little knitted purses. They appeal to me because they are so simple to make and I can knock one up in an evening. It is not false modesty when I say that I am pretty cack-handed when it comes to knitting and sewing. I sigh over some blogs where the creators are banging out stunning patchworks and impeccable blankets. I can master anything that goes in straight lines, so this basic knitting stitch suits me just fine. Best of all, I like to choose the wool and match up the buttons from my stash. It is so relaxing. While I was sorting through a box of wool in a charity shop last week, I met a very nice elderly lady, who gave me great words of encouragement. Keep at it, was the general gist, and speak your patterns out loud. So that's what I'm going to do. (Btw, I didn't make this beautiful crochet blanket)

Monday 25 April 2011

Bank holiday thrifting

I love visiting car boot sales for the possibility of vintage finds, but I'm getting increasingly keen on the other things you can buy there. Fresh eggs, herb plants, cakes, crafts, it's a small alternative universe, and there are no sharp elbows around these things. Today, my husband, younger son and I got up with the lark and headed off to a lovely big boot that takes place every year on Easter Monday.

Look at these lovely fresh eggs: the seller even told us the breed of each of the three hens which laid them!
I bought the little blue and white dish as well,  along with quite a few other goodies: a pink Lloyd Loom bedside cupboard, pure vintage cotton sheets, unused, with their folds perfectly preserved, buttons, fabric, knitting needles, a huge zinc dolly tub and a duck egg blue gas lamp. 

Yesterday I heard the designer Cath Kidston on Desert Island Discs explaining how she still likes to get out to the occasional car boot sale, purely for that initial thrill of walking in, not knowing what she will find. That's something I am sure anyone reading this blog can relate to. A note aside: Cath's interview was interesting  although I was left wanting to know much, much  more about her. I thought Kirsty Young's questions were a bit lame.

Anyway, we're all shattered now after our early morning excursion. Husband and son are off to a football match this afternoon, but I shall be back out in the garden, making the most of the last hours of holiday time (until the next one on Friday).

Sunday 24 April 2011

Easter Sunday

Today I have been:

Baking hot cross buns (Nigel Slater's recipe in Sainsburys magazine):

Painting, for my sale:

Packaging, fabrics and buttons:

Labelling, the growing mound of goodies in my living room: the hammock with a cup of tea. 
I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend. 

Thursday 21 April 2011

Fine weather for a picnic

My thoughts have turned to picnics and my favourite description of one comes from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Inside Ratty's "fat wicker luncheon basket" is: "cold chicken, cold tongue, cold ham, cold beef, pickled gherkins, salad, french rolls, cress sandwiches, ginger beer, lemonade and soda water...."
We have a river bank with willow trees and wide water meadows close to us here, and it's known that Kenneth Grahame stayed here just before he started writing his famous book. I always think about this when I'm walking along that route and it is very easy to imagine Rat, Mole and co in situ.
I bought the little red polka dot hamper last year with the intention of using it for a cover shot on the magazine. I am hoping this will happen for the July issue. I got it out today because the weather is just perfect for a picnic. It was balmy, that's the only word to describe it out there this afternoon. 

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Our daily bread

A new artisan bakery has just opened in my nearest market town. I went along to cover it for the local magazine that I work on, and became quite entranced with taking photographs of the lovely loaves.

English muffins for breakfast tomorrow....

It is expensive, but you can eat every last crumb....

Or make a meal of just bread and butter, tomatoes and cheese...delicious!

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Hangin' around

Today I did something that I very rarely do. I sat in the back garden. Just sat in the sun. Thinking and looking around. There is a vast amount to do in the borders, so many weeds to pluck and seeds to sow, but I was really tired after finishing three work deadlines, so I wasn't even tempted to do a single chore. It was bliss. I actually took this photo last June, when I had done a fair bit of weeding and seed sowing, but it sums up the mood of today perfectly.
I took this shot in my friend Tracey's beautiful (and shortly to be famous!) garden. It is a very inspiring place to be. So much colour and different shapes and textures.

Sunday 17 April 2011

Car boot loot

It's only 10.20 and it feels like the middle of the afternoon, thanks to an early car boot start this morning. Although, as it turned out, it wasn't quite early enough, as lots of lovely loot had already gone and was making its way back to the car park in the arms of others....
I did get one or two things. A little old basket to hold this gorgeous tea set which is going to my sale, ten old terracotta plant pots with the name of a nursery stamped into the clay, and a woollen rug woven with brightly coloured pansies.

It is such a glorious day out there. I'm off to do some gardening, and then we're going to take my Dad out to Sunday lunch for his 80th birthday....

Saturday 16 April 2011


In between working, gardening and general household duties, I'm slowly making things ready for my sale on May 2nd. Last night I was bagging up vintage buttons and putting napkins into sets. This is my favourite part of the whole thing, if I'm honest.

Lots more furniture painting to be done, but this mirror is now finished and priced.

A couple of larger projects in the pipeline as well, recovering a chair and a stool. And some old suitcases to line with fabric or old sheet music. I only do them if they're too scruffy to stay untouched, as I don't think you can really improve on a pretty old suitcase.
Tomorrow I should be going to my first car boot sale of the season if the weather is as good as it promises to be. I shall report back with any finds that might come my way (if any! It is rather a competitive world out there in the early morning).

Friday 15 April 2011

A dress for a wedding

In theory, it should be easy to get dressed if your body is of the long, stringbean variety. Well, it's not true. Or perhaps it's just not true if your body is of the ageing long, stringbean variety, with a few added lumps and bumps. Finding something for an upcoming family wedding has proved tricky. The dresses I love are all quite beachy and laid back, which isn't right for this occasion. But this one from Wallis is pretty good. It has a really 1950s shape, and a skirt that flares out. It's a good length, just below the knee, without looking frumpy, and it's cotton. All it needs is a little cardigan and a bag, and some sandals, all of which I've already got in my wardrobe, and I should be good to go. Wallis isn't somewhere I usually shop, but on their website they had another stunning 1950s inspired dress, with a big Marimekko style orange poppy print with olive accents. These aren't my colours, unfortunately, but it was a cracking dress.
Finally, today's lilac bulletin. These blossoms are blooming in the church yard, where I took my walk today.
They smell so sweet....

Wednesday 13 April 2011


I was walking to the village shop this morning via the back lane, and it was there! The lilac is out.

I took one little blossom so I could bring it home and put it on my desk to distract me from my pile of work. Then I spotted my neighbours' japonica, which hangs temptingly over our side of the garden, so I stole a little bit of that as well. I blame Country Living for this outbreak of flower smuggling. The blossom on that cover is just divine.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Pretty in pink

Country Living magazine is back on form. I love this cover, modelled here on my two finds from Hastings (a long length of vintage fabric and a cushion).

Monday 11 April 2011

A weekend by the sea

We've just come home from a wonderful weekend away on the Sussex coast. We stayed with my sister-in-law in Brighton, but here we are in Hastings for the day. I have never visited before, and it's a great town. Lots of interesting shops, laid back cafes and a long sea front. It combines traditional seaside attractions with a slightly more Bohemian vibe...
We strolled around in the sunshine, ate fish and chips on the sea front, climbed up to the ruined castle and poked around in some dusty junk shops.

Hastings is not as busy as Brighton. We were in Brighton town centre when the annual marathon was on this Sunday. Thousands of people crowded down to the sea front to cheer on the runners. It was really moving to see so many people taking part, running for a huge variety of charities. It was almost impossible to take photos, as there were so many people about. Eventually, I gave up and we turned our attention to more pressing matters: lunch from an amazing smoked fish stall.