Monday, 31 May 2010

Deadly sin #3

Saturday afternoon. Beautiful Girl has her crayons, a pile of blank paper and Cbeebies. I sit on the sofa with a little project..... and sit..... and sit..... Lovely Husband comes home, baths the Beautiful Girl and puts her to bed while I sit..... and sit.....

(By the way, am very excited about the project and looking forward to posting a few pictures very soon.)

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Where has all the sunshine gone?

Wasn't it gloriously, blissfully hot this weekend? We took full advantage of what felt like the onset of summer to have the First Barbecue of the Year on Saturday. Yummy food, lovely friends and just a little too much Pimms contributed to a really wonderful evening.
Then on Sunday we had a day out here at Winterbourne House and Botanical Gardens. The gardens at Winterbourne are wonderful (naughty blogger forgot the camera, so I can't show just how beautiful) and the house -a stunning Edwardian building - has just been refurbished too. To celebrate this the House held an Edwardian Fete. There was Punch & Judy, croquet on the lawn, a coconut shy and teas to be taken on the wisteria-bedecked terrace (jam and cream-laden scones, de rigeur). Best of all, for Beautiful Girl at least, there were donkey rides too. She has long held a love affair with all things equine - unicorns being her most favourite thing in the entire universe - with ponies and horses coming a close second, but after two rides on a donkey she was absolutely smitten. When she won 3pence on the roll-a-penny she solemnly announced that she wasn't going to spend it at the fete but would instead save up for a donkey of her very own. After a visit from Nanny yesterday, to watch her dancing in her school Maypole Assembly, the Donkey Fund now stands at a healthy£1:03. Maybe we should start looking into stabling options.....

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Small pleasures

Each morning I have a few precious hours between dropping Beautiful Girl at school and heading off to work myself. In an ideal world I'd spend this time reading, baking, gardening or doing a little crafting. More often than not, however, it gets swallowed up by drudge work - washing dishes, shopping for groceries or preparing the evening meal. Today it is school work that demands my attention but - hurrah - the sun is shining so I take my books out to the garden, where there is homegrown lilac and iced juice in a thrifted jug.

Thursday, 13 May 2010

Deadly Sin #2

My usual trick with cookery books is to buy them, ooh and ahh greedily over the photographs, mark the pages of all the recipes I'm going to cook, then put the book on the shelf, promptly forget about it and turn back to Nigel Slater. It is therefore surprising to find myself actually using my new Sophie Dahl book this week. For breakfast I've made bircher muesli with blueberries, walnuts and honey (see above) as well as rhubarb compote with orange flower yoghurt and pistachios. And for my Mum's birthday tea: Victoria sponge with orange buttercream and homemade raspberry jam.
All were yummy although I remain slightly disappointed - apparently when you buy the book the lifestyle doesn't automatically come with it. Who knew?

Monday, 10 May 2010

Favourite things #3

I went to see a concert by the very wonderful Jesca Hoop last night. Her voice is thrillingly beautiful and it felt like such a treat to be sung to by her. But the real joy of the evening for me (apart from being out with my lovely Best Friend) was discovering the fabulousness that is Kirsty Almeida. She was the support act but her and her band absolutely shone for me. Seriously, check her out (and no need even to thank me!)

Thursday, 6 May 2010


While it's not a personality trait of which I'm particularly proud, I also don't mind admitting that I love to shop. Not the kind of shopping where you trudge, dead-eyed, around a soulless supermarket. And definitely not the sort of shopping where you stand under a too harsh light in a fitting room, looking at wrinkles you didn't know you had and trying to squeeze into a dress that is so unflattering that it makes you want to weep. (And the worst part? When you hand the frock back to the, invariably, young, lithe and gorgeous assisstant on the way out, muttering "No thanks," and you can practically hear her thinking "Well, did you really think you could get away with that?!") No, I much prefer spending 15 minutes choosing olives in a lovely deli or rooting around for treasure in a packed-to-the-rafters junk shop. However, I do also love the sort of shopping that you can do at 9:30pm, in your pyjamas, with a mug of tea at your side. One of the great things about online shopping is that you get that little buzz of happiness twice - once when you actually purchase the things and then another a couple of days later when the postman brings a parcel full of Lovely Things to your door. I've had three such parcels this week and have been really pleased with the contents, so thought I'd share my loot with you. The first two parcels contained my Number One Shopping Pleasure...books!

There was a new Persephone Dorothy Whipple, of course ("They Were Sisters") and a copy of Sophie Dahl's cookbook, the styling for which, like her recent TV programme, is absolutely beautiful. Then there was a copy of "Home-Made Vintage" by Christina Strutt, of Cabbages and Roses fame. This is filled with easy sewing projects - although whether they'll be easy enough for me remains to be seen - and again, the pictures are just gorgeous. And finally there was a little book of French vintage-inspired stickers and labels, perfect for re-using envelopes, labelling jars of home-made goodies, sticking on presents etc.

Then the last parcel contained a wooden crochet hook - I've tried to get a decent photo of it but the weather here is so dreary and grey that all my photos are unusably dark. I will get a photo of it, by which time it will have some crochet on! (Therefore be prepared to wait a while....)

Saturday, 1 May 2010

3 Beautiful Things

Today I re-discovered the glorious "3 Beautiful Things" blog (link in sidebar). It's such a lovely idea - to recognise three things, big or small, to be thankful for each day - and it's executed beautifully by Clare. Her writing is just a joy to read. So, in her honour, I've posted my own 3 Beautiful Things for today....

1. This morning I finish "Fingersmith" by the brilliant, compulsively readable Sarah Waters . This afternoon, at the library, I find the new novel by the brilliant, compulsively readable Douglas Kennedy.

2. The brownie, which I tutted at having to pay £2.50 for, turns out to be completely worth it; perfectly gooey and - oh joy - packed with walnuts.

3. Beautiful Girl makes friends with a girl she happens to be sitting next to. Their conversation - based on teacher's names and admiring each other's colouring in - is utterly sweet and sincere.