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Monday, 25 February 2013

Take a pew

My pew arrived today, courtesy of my friend Tracey and her van. I spent some time yesterday reshuffling the kitchen and making a big space for the pew to land. I still wasn't sure if it would look right, but now it is in place, I am really pleased with it.

A perch on which to sit and chat to the cook....

The pew is just a simple pitch pine, smoothed by the passage of time, and my Dad, who made all sorts of little adjustments for me. I loved the chance to rejig the house, cleaning is always much more satisfying when you're doing it with a good reason. I also went into my shed and retrieved a small book shelf, which I think was made by my late uncle in his woodworking class at school. Cleaned it and waxed it, and then sorted out all my recipe books to display.

My eldest son looked askance at the jug of daffodils. "Now Mum, that's not very practical...." I have assured him that the daffs are for one day only....

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Saturday dress

I saw this dress in Cambridge when I went recently with my son but we weren't really on a shopping day, and my size wasn't hanging on the rail, so I left it. When I got home, I started thinking how much I really loved the dress, so I hunted it down on the internet. It's a new season Seasalt dress, but for some reason it isn't on their website. Instead, I tracked it to an independent shop in Leamington Spa and they posted it to me the very next day. Thank you Parkinsons.

It is very pretty and vintage inspired.

              This shot shows the true colour

Seasalt do have some beautiful clothes and a great online catalogue, inspired by Cornwall. Find them at

Now I have to go away and do some homework for something I'm doing next Friday. It's a new challenge for me, and I'll tell you all about it once it's all over and (hopefully) has gone smoothly. 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

An easy project

For a long time now, I've wanted to be able to line some of my vintage baskets. I had a few tries, which didn't work out well. But I was flicking through one of my favourite craft books (Homemade Gifts Vintage Style by Sarah Moore) over the weekend and I found some easy instructions which didn't require too many needlework skills, so yesterday I had a go.

I picked up the little work basket for 50p at a yard sale over the summer. It is a bit plain as it is, so a floral lining seemed just the thing to liven it up. The first thing I did was to scrunch up some newspaper, and line the basket with it.

This makes the template for the fabric. I cut out a circle, just a couple of centimetres larger than my scrunched newspaper template, to allow for a hem, and whizzed round it on my machine (I say 'whizzed' round it. I fell out with the machine, as usual, and there was a certain amount of teeth gnashing, but I got there). Then I put the hemmed circle into the basket and I used a long needle to stitch the fabric to the wicker. The fabric looked much too big for the basket, but I made little pleats as I went round and it was much easier than I thought it would be. I was trying to cook a roast dinner at the same time, as by now I was desperate to see if it would work.

And yes, it did work! You can see some of my stitches on the wicker, but it's really not too bad, and it makes the little basket look so much nicer.

Sunshine is streaming in today, it's absolutely beautiful, so I made the most of the light.

Full marks to the Sarah Moore vintage book. I find it so easy to use. Many 'making' books go straight over my head, I can't interpret instructions easily, but this one is so very straightforward and sensible. 
I did buy a new book the other day, after seeing it mentioned on Selina Lake's blog:

I thought I might find some things to make for my 50th birthday party, which I hope to hold in a village hall later this  year. I've started collecting ideas and decorations for it, as I'd love to have a vintage theme. There are some pretty little things to make in here. I like this one, made with an embroidery hoop:

But I have to say, Sarah Moore still rules for me. I am going to try lining a rectangular basket next. 
Enjoy the beautiful day if the sun is shining where you are. 

Sunday, 17 February 2013

A peek into the past

Next door to Kettle's Yard (see previous post) is Cambridge Folk Museum. This is a small and lovely place, with great appeal for younger children (and people like me). It has a warren of rooms set out as a kitchen, bedroom, scullery, dining room, nursery etc. 

An amazing dolls house, part of a great collection of old toys.

The museum doesn't wow like Kettle's Yard, but it is worth popping in, especially if you have children or grandchildren in tow. There's a tea room at weekends and in the holidays. Great window display for this...

Friday, 15 February 2013

A top five favourite destination

Kettle's Yard, in Cambridge, is one of my favourite places. I've visited quite a few times in the last 20 years, but I hadn't been recently. Today, my youngest son and I went to Cambridge on the train, and we decided to call in. For anyone who doesn't know, Kettle's Yard was the home of a man called Jim Ede, who was the curator at the Tate Gallery in the 1920s. He befriended lots of young artists, and began to collect their work. After he retired, he travelled with his wife, Helen, and they then settled in Cambridge, choosing a home where they could showcase their amazing collection of art, furniture and natural objects. The idea was to create a place where people could: 'find a home and a welcome, a refuge of peace and order, of the visual arts and music...a continuing way of which stray objects, stones, glass, pictures, sculpture are arranged in light and space.'

The place is actually four cottages which were adapted into one home. The light is amazing, and all of the objects are displayed according to Jim's vision. He and Helen  lived here for 16 years, opening it every afternoon to the public.  Now Kettle's Yard belongs to the University of Cambridge. You can call in between 2-4pm, and spend time there, sitting on the chairs and reading the books. It is the  most beautiful, restful place to be.

 This window sill full of plants, with shells and pebbles placed between them, is stunning, and today the sun was streaming in.

Everything in the  house is understated and plain, so the paintings sing out.

A bed strewn with dried flowers....

Collections of china, cracked and chipped, no less beautiful for that.

You are allowed to sit in the chairs, it's very relaxed, although the objects are not for touching.

I love this giant sofa and the picture of pears above it. There is so much space to breathe.

What a wonderful spot to sit and read or write. I won't leave it so long until I visit again. 
One of the things I love about this place is that it's accessible to all, entry is free, although of course they would like to receive donations, and you can become a 'friend' for £20 a year. 

Where is your favourite place?

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Is it wrong to....?

...wish away the seasons? I know that time marches on too quickly, and I don't really want to hurry it along, but I am tired of bitterly cold leaden grey days, boots, hats, jumpers and slush. So I am just going to dream a little bit with memories of last spring and summer. Above and below are  Kelmarsh Hall gardens, which are sensational. Can't wait to go back again this year.

And this little village, Laxton, Northants, which I stumbled across last year. There was a small garden fete and I remember that I bought a pair of old leather shoes, some plum coloured geraniums and a beautiful green jug. The sun came out unexpectedly and I sat on the green, drank tea and ate Jubilee celebration cake. My family were away and I was feeling free as a bird.

I love this garden gate.

This is Easton Walled Gardens, Lincolnshire. Another lovely spot.

Bulwick Hall, a dreamy place close to where I live. It only opens occasionally, every two years, which makes it seem more attractive somehow. It has a walled vegetable garden, and an ancient tumbledown orangery.

Hope you enjoyed the eye candy. Normal seasons will be resumed tomorrow.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Spring is not sprung

Winter is reminding us that we are still in its grip, with more snow fall today. But inside, we were all spring-like, doing our cover shoot. It should look something like this, except with proper lighting and lenses. Had great fun doing this, lots of chat in between takes.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

A pastel afternoon

It's the first Saturday of half term and there is a mellow feeling in the house. Just the sound of various sports scores being shouted from room to room. Saucepans clinking in the kitchen as youngest makes a banofee pie. There are no mad homework deadlines, revision or thoughts of school for a couple of days. 
I'm planning the March cover for the local magazine, so I've piled all my props on the table. Things I have by me, or that I've collected over the last few weeks with this in mind.

The temptation is always to cram too many things into the shot. Photographer Lesley Anne will arrive on Monday and find about 10,000 Easter themed items on my table and she will patiently remove about 9,995 of them, before we get the picture just right. It always happens. 

Out of these shots are three pots of daffodils, three of primulas and a bunch of tulips. Probably none of them will end up with a starring role, but you just never know.
The little brown tea caddy came from the British Heart Foundation shop recently, it's so pretty and the wood has been smoothed over the years by unknown hands. The knob may be bakelite, I'm not sure.

The green toast rack in the second pic is from a new retro shop that opened today in a very small village two miles away. I had to go and photograph it for the magazine, and it just seemed rude not to buy something, especially as there was a discount for the opening day. It's a brave venture, opening a shop in a village, but lots of local folk had turned out to support the owner. There was cake and cava flowing at 11am and a lovely atmosphere. Daisy Chain in Wansford, if you're ever passing. It's right next to the A1, north of Peterborough.

Have a lovely weekend.

Friday, 8 February 2013

Nice to meet pew

A felted woollen brooch from my local gallery shop, Art in the Heart, Peterborough, which is made by Eve Marshall. I thought it was adorable. But that has nothing to do with the title of my post. 
Today, I popped in to see my parents to cadge a cup of tea. Mum wasn't there, she was at the local church which is selling off a number of wooden pews, and she'd gone to have a look at them. So of course I went to have a look,too. And of course, I bought one. It is only a small one. It was very reasonably priced. I don't have anywhere to put it. I will find somewhere to put it. 
I don't have the pew yet, it will take a while to arrange transport, but I'll post some pictures when I have got it home.
My reasoning was that it was part of the church in the village where I was born and brought up for 18 years. A little piece of my history, if you like. 
My parents have also purchased a pew. It is obviously in the genes...

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Up in the air

The twinkling lights of the capital, as viewed from The Shard last night. I went right up to the top, as part of a press event, and I thought it was spectacular. I felt very safe up in the air, but the 360 degree view gives a strange sensation. 

I wish I knew more about physics because I simply don't understand how this stays upright! And I thought a lot about the builders and workmen who scaled the heights to put it all in place. 

St Paul's Cathedral is visible here. It's not my usual blog style, I know, but I thought I would share.

I look as if I am being teleported, disintegrating into a thousand tiny atoms! But I think I was holding on too tightly for that to happen...

Sunday, 3 February 2013


I've been having a lovely weekend. Night out with friends in the pub on Friday, and to the cinema with my son to see 'Lincoln' yesterday. And, some more retro baking in the shape of these jammy dodgers. I spotted the recipe for these in Good Housekeeping and had to try them. They are very, very good indeed. Light and crispy on the outside. Raspberry jam in the centre (Aldi's raspberry conserve is best). I had to cordon off a few biscuits for photography so the family didn't pounce on the whole tin.

I've also finished my doll's cot quilt. If you don't look too closely at my stitching, it's quite sweet.

I so enjoyed making this. Instead of wadding, I used an old wool blanket that I've been cutting up for various  projects, and I neatened the edges with red bias binding. I haven't actually quilted it with lines of stitching as I didn't want to ruin it by making a mistake, but I think that will be my next step.