Monday, 30 March 2009

time management problem

For some, Saturday nights involve wild dancing and drinking till the world spins and ends by crawling into a pit,vowing never to do it again..
But for the Shoe and I, we stayed up till the wee small hours tying knots in ribbon and punching holes and generally cursing my lack of organisation as we prepared for an exhibition the following day.This usually involves me plying my wares whilst the Shoe acts as my pimp, he does it well and I buy him a curry as a thank you in the evening. All fairly good fun but not the perfect way to spend a sunday.

So there we were, clock ticking by,hours of potential sleep getting less, without even mentioning the disappearing hour as it becomes summer time in an instant, when The Shoe asks what time we actually need to be there.. 'Oh ten thirty,eleven' I say vaguely 'well I'd better check' so on goes the interweb and then 'it says here April 19th' EH??? April 19th? Bloomin'eck Flora!

Yup I had the wrong date.Oops...

I swear I have some disease where I get a time or date fixed in my mind as I have done this behaviour before. It's never got me in trouble but can be rather annoying. Luckily I have married the calmest and most patient man in the universe, who,when we realised that we wouldn't have to get up in 3 hours time, just laughed and laughed and laughed. The relief! It was like the world had given us a free day. So the only way to fill it (after catching up with lots of sleep) was to garden! Hurrah.. that is one of the perfect ways to spend a sunday.Happily we wandered round the garden centre, gazing at the plants we want to transform our garden of disaster with. We finally planted the cherry tree we were given as a wedding present(hope it will survive) and whilst the Shoe set about tearing up the last of the horrid decking that covered our tiny garden, I filled window boxes in the sun.

For those of horticultural persuasion, I planted dwarf daffodils(obviously)violas,muscari,saxifrage, some kind of succulent(Oo-er) oh and native cowslips. Love that word - so english!Makes me think of summer meadows.It was a wonderful way to spend the first day of British Summer Time.

Weird weather news..

So I've had to do lots of driving these last few days and usually I hate driving.
Although sometimes I love it, when there's no jams and no idiots and when good music comes on the radio, you're in your own bubble and sound like Barbara Streisand when you sing along(cars are as good as showers for voice improvement). This weekend was one of those happy driving times, the loveliest part was the incredible weather we've been having, patchwork of dark clouds and bright blue skies, views of pouring rain from one window, blue sky from the other.
Obviously this means it was optimum rainbow spotting weather and there have been rainbows just all over the place, at times it felt like I was following them along my journey. But alas, there was no gold, just my home, which is almost as good! Now I know I'm not such an ego maniac to imagine there were there just for me, or that I have any supernatural power over the meteorological happenings.. but secretly I like to believe they had been sent to cheer me up after I wrote about looking to the rainbows. All the way along the dull motorway and then across the rooftops in the dirty city,I've never seen the skies so colourful.

One of the days, I was thinking of a certain song during work,humming away to myself, and then as I started the long journey home it was the first one that came on the radio. I love radio synchronicities! Spooky!!
It was this by Simon and Garfunkel and contains one of my favourite lines ever-
I can gather all the news I need from the weather report..

Very true sometimes. It felt good driving through the rainbows singing along with Mr Paul Simon. I always try to do the harmonies,badly.
Last night, I was listening to the version by Everything but the Girl about whom the Shoe and I always argue as he hates Tracy Thorn's voice and does ths morose impression of her. Harumph!
But he agreed it was a very good song and was impressed - yay! I felt triumphant.

photo and again

Thursday, 26 March 2009


I hate this day.. it was the day six years ago that broke my world apart. It started out ordinary but by 4 pm,life had shattered into a million pieces like a fairytale mirror never to be mended.At each passing year,the urge to hide away till it has passed grows stronger.People say that time heals,but whether there hasn't been enough time,or it's been a particularly tough patch since getting married, it seems to get harder and harder. Moving away from when he was present in our lives and as we change,grow older,get married, get new jobs,the sadness grows more acute.

I have been trying to write something for the last few days and faltering with each attempt, so I'll keep it short. But really this is one of the reasons why I'm writing this blog, reminding myself of all the life -affirming goodness that is out there, looking to the rainbows from the darkest storm.So it seemed I needed to say something. And my brother was always one for enjoying life, it seems a cliche about those that live fast lives but with him he did seem to really exist for music, poetry,friends, laughter,learning and so many things that makes life rich and colourful. Often I will hear a song,or see a film and wonder what he would have thought of it, desperate for his opinion.

He did a lot with his short time here, travelled, made good friends,had a loving relationship,was loved ,as George Sands wrote 'There is only one happiness in this life,to love and be loved'
As the big sister, part of me is still furious with him for leaving us. Leaving us, once a little tripod of siblings now with one branch of our tree gone.And it saddens me so much that we have been robbed of the adult friendship we would have had and we were becoming such good friends, leaving behind the many memories of arguing as ratty brother and sister, trying to make sense of family life after our parents split.

Music has been the hardest thing, I couldn't bear to hear songs that he loved for years, even now Nick Drake's songs are impossible to hear all the way through. But he loved them so. Especially this one, From the morning. And these lines make me think of him especially-
'And now we rise and we are everywhere'

A day once dawned
And it was beautiful
A day once dawned from the ground
Then the night she fell
And the air was beautiful
The night she fell all around

So look see the days
The endless coloured ways
And go play the game that you learnt
From the morning

And now we rise
And we are everywhere
And now we rise from the ground
And see she flies
And she is everywhere
See she flies all around

So look see the sights
The endless summer nights
And go play the game that you learnt

From the morning.

This picture reminds me of the millenium morning, we watched the sun rise over these cliffs. Miss you.

picture from here and here

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Of fairy tales and ...

A venture to my favourite market and amongst all the stalls of china teacups,buttons and clothing was a table full of books. Dusty,worn books inviting an enquiring mind to turn pages that may have been unseen for years and years.
My eye was first caught by an ancient photograph album, faded sepia portraits stuck in amongst floral frames. I saw wonderful children's books- an old Mary Poppins book and then....
a book that was filled with magic,and opening like an ancient magician's tome to reveal the story of The Snow Queen,always a favourite from childhood. My sister and I gasped as we turned the pages and revealed the exquisite illustrations, delicately painted, the colours lucid and bright despite it's great age...

It was a book of Hans Christian Anderson fairy tales with illustrations by Edmund Dulac. I have been obsessed with illustrations from children's book for quite a while now, and we now have a small collection of well-loved books. Dulac's illustrations are full of grace and subtlety, without the dark, sometimes grotesque-ness of Arthur Rackham(another fave), and the beauty is spell-binding, it gave me butterflies to be looking at something so enchanting...

I was thrilled when the seller didn't beat around the bush with haggling and gave me his best price which was, surprisingly, very good. Although I am in desperate need of new shoes, this book was going to come home with me.. to bring magic and wonder to our lives. It was too special to let slip away.

Other tales in the book include The Little Mermaid

The Emperor and the nightingale

And this fabulous picture from,of course, the Princess and the Pea!

Perfectly magical... I love finding treasure.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Stolen Violets

I was a naughty girl today.
Whilst walking les poochies today in this week of summer during a spring month,I was deep in thought when suddenly I spied a clump of purple amidst dark green. Violets! Tiny tiny flowers that hug the ground and seen only by those with eyes cast down.I was thrilled. They seem so rare I was delighted to find a huge area covered with them in our city park. And... I'm afraid I couldn't resist but like a floral thief picked two plants to brighten the kitchen. They have always been one of my favourites ever since Eliza Doolittle uttered the words 'all me violets trod in the mud' from My Fair Lady.

'O wind, where have you been,
That you blow so sweet?
Among the violets
Which blossom at your feet.

The honeysuckle waits
For Summer and for heat
But violets in the chilly Spring
Make the turf so sweet.'

I left the roots on so maybe if I plant them, I'll have no need to be a park burglar. Normally I would never behave in such a fashion, but every good girl deserves violets!
And besides,they look lovely on the mantelpiece above the vase of pussy willow I picked last week!

I would have loved to have had a violet wedding bouquet like this one, surrounded by leaves,just like Eliza would have sold.

Or This one has a modern twist but still full of parisian charm.

Or maybe bake some cupcakes and decorate with crystalized violets. Here's a recipe to create sugared petals and here, from cabbagerosesandcupcakes,a recipe for violet cupcakes too

Violets became popular in Victorian times, when the symbolic meaning of flowers gave meaning and depth to the giving of flowers. The violet signified modesty and friendship...
I adore the vintage postcards you can find, decorated with entwined violets.

From here and here- with lots more vintage,birdy cards.

Poem by Christina Rosetti.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

The Irish half..

..of me is thinking of all the amazing music I could post today..It's incredible how such a tiny island has produced such outstanding musicians and songs. I guess it must be something in my genes that in particular the folk music makes me feel so alive and captures all the mournful thoughts and expresses wild abandon so well.
Planxty and Christy Moore are without doubt geniuses of the highest order, a folk supergroup they reformed to do some concerts in early 2004 and lucky me and daddy dearest scored some tickets.. we both sat listening tapping feet and shedding tears in equal measure.
Planxty's songs have meant a lot to me through my life, we even had one of their songs performed at our wedding ceremony and this one The Blacksmith, was sung to me by my mum as she lulled me to sleep.
However this is no lullaby- without doubt the funkiest folk song you'll ever hear this side of the Irish Channel!

Monday, 16 March 2009

flowers,flowers and more...

That seemed to be the theme for the weekend.
All started in Greenwich Park on saturday where the combination of camellias and daffodils made the day seem in glorious technicolour..

Kissing daffodils,they're in love

Pooch started running through the patch of daffies like 'The little house on the prairies' opening credits..made me laugh

Friday, 13 March 2009

How to....

...waste time on a grey,gloomy friday....

Talk nonsense with pals and plan a springtime tea party just like this...

Try to persuade them to go to this which looks a riot...

Sit in your favourite chair pulling the ears of a fluffy dog..

Decide that my tramp chic look has to go, falling apart shoes and straggly hemmed coats are never going to catch on...

Sit around staring at clouds and dream about living in a country that has more blue sky than grey...wonder if blue sky would get a bit monotonous after a while...

Do some etsy and ebay drooling but be very good and restrain from clicking on buy...

Contemplate playing scrabble with one's self... at least you'd win.
Or with the dogs... might not win.

Worry that your eyes are changing colour and not at the same rate thus potentially ending up in a David Bowie situation..

Start taking photos of the cabbages in the window boxes that are growing in a bizarre but lovely way. Realise that the neighbours have seen you and you look like a snooping curtain twitcher..

Have a disco in the kitchen and dance like a loon to this whilst using a wooden spoon as a microphone....

Yeah... Funky Friday!

And remember TheShoe gets home soon and there are two whole days for us to plot and plan and skidaddle and explore and snore and generally just act like silly-billys.

It's what we do best..

(pretty pic from country living mag)

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

I almost forgot...

..that Sunday was International Women's Day. A day about celebrating inspirations and achievements but also remembering the continued oppression that still exists, from homes to war zones around the world.

For my shame, I only learnt that this day even existed just before Christmas and it was in a rather superficial fashion. I was in a perfume shop spritzing myself with a mimosa scent when the assistant approached me and told me how the mimosa flower was symbolic of this day and in Italy, women were presented with sprigs of the feathery yellow bloom.
Mimosa has recently become one of my favourite things since I lived in a house that was brightened by a tree in a neighbouring garden.It is a glorious sight to see in these grey days of spring- a tree abundant with the eggyolk yellow blossom and my heart sings if ever I pass one by.

So unaware of the connection, I finally bought my own little shrub with sunshine pompoms on Sunday,well actually The Shoe bought it so I can say it was my IWD gift!

I love this postcard I bought months ago, a dress of mimosa yellow with flower sums up the symbolism so well.

Apparently an article written in the Vatican newspaper to mark the day, stated that the most liberating contribution to women's lives was the washing I don't dispute that life must be far easier without having to mangle one's drawers and scrub away till your hands are red raw but really, is that the best they can come up with? But as the insightful Michelle Hanson says, the pill and the like aren't allowed over there, washing machines are. I won't rant now...although someone added that the most liberating thing about washing machines might be sitting on them!

So in tribute to women's day and also stealing the idea from fab Sotto Voce's list of inspirational ladies, I thought I would list some of the gals I am impressed by.

Politically minded would be the Pankhurst sisters and other sister suffragettes, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, the first female doctor and mayor in Victorian England,Germaine Greer- I love her mad rantings..

Writers would be Jane Austen(of course), Angela Carter, Maya Angelou and Dorothy Parker-

'I like to have a martini,
Two at the very most.
After three I'm under the table,
after four I'm under my host.'

Oh and Louisa May Alcott for giving me childhood dreams of writing in an attic.

Musicians, urgh, so many- Judy Garland,Nina Simone, Joni Mitchell, Babs,the incredible creative imagination of Bjork and Kirsty. Much missed Kirsty MacColl.

And then of course there's Audrey, with her perfect style. Oh I'm sure there's a million more I have forgotten. Please suggest any of your favourite ladies, won't you?

pictures from here ,here and here