Pleasing

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An alluringly tactile pencil tray from the firm Kuru, on sale in “Foundry” on Seah Street, Singapore and possibly on the web.

Kuru means “come” in Japanese and has a cool, airy sound that makes me want to run round the woods chirruping to myself.

If I’d bought this, I’d have added some Ray Eames pencils from the Barbican show.

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Barbara

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29.08.2011 Kirchmöser / Brandenburg DREHARBEITEN  Barbara ein Film von Christian Petzold  mit Nina Hoss ( Model release No ) © Christian Schulz Mobil 01723917694 Finanzamt Kreuzberg St.Nr. 14/524/60768 Honorarpflichtig  7% Mwst Bankverbindung Sparkasse Berlin Blz 10050000 Kto 640188842

Photos of the excellent and understated Nina Hoss in ‘Barbara’, a film set in the rural North of Germany in the late 1980s. Barbara is a doctor who has been exiled from the top hospital in Berlin as punishment for an unnamed political misdemeanour.

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The whole film has a slightly dreamlike, detached quality, as if Barbara herself cannot believe the life she is now leading or as if she is a princess trapped in a fairytale.

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Scenes are shot slowly and the soundtrack has been replaced mainly with silence, with the noise of shoe soles and heels scraping and tapping on pavements or the sound of the wind as Barbara cycles to the woods to escape her colleagues and watchers. Yet within this, a happiness seems to dawn.

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Wild woods

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Where do you think this is?

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A wild corner of an English estate? Sweden at midsummer? It’s the Singapore Botanic Gardens earlier this month.

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The colours remind me of these watercolour-inspired Marimekko plates.

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Travel diaries

Currently debating between Cremona and Tallinn, or both, with my friend Miriam. Top photo Cremona, bottom picture, Tallinn’s Tammsaare Park:

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Or how about another walk round London?

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Jean Bullock, Seated Boy (1976). This statue on Longford Street is made from sculpted concrete.

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London photos taken October 2015.

Daily communion

Little cup of melancholy,

inch-deep well of the blackest

concentrate of brown,

it comes to your table without ceremony

and stands there shuddering

back to an inner repose.

Pinch it: it’s still hot…

The opening verse of Christopher Reid’s “Espresso”, published by Faber & Faber and part of their poetry calendar, something it’s almost worth abandoning the iPhone for just to be able to pick it up and read each week

The title of today’s post comes from a description later down the poem.

Blog of the week

When I read that the Mary Rose went down carrying five varieties of plums on board, I was delighted; when I read that one of these was the Reine Claude (a green plum) and that the variety takes its name from a queen of France who handed out fruit slips to her noble neighbours in Blois, it literally made my day.

How do archaeologists know how many types of plum were on board? Were these fruit – now seen in overpriced hipster shops – as cheap as smoked salmon and oysters used to be? If there was so much fruit on board, why did scurvy become so problematic in the navy two centuries later? Did Rumer Godden know when she set “The Greengage Summer” in northern France that she was capturing an historic geographical reality? Who was Queen Claude and what else did she do?

It’s thinking these thoughts that make my inner nerd feel happy and fulfilled with the world. There’s nothing like the warm glow of a new connection made.

All these gems came from the Deptford Pudding blog, whose musings cover samphire hunting, Kentish cobnuts (aka philberts or the even more delightful-sounding gunselberts) and, of course, the eponymous DP, a kind of savoury cheesecake that found favour with John Evelyn.

As, apparently did quinces. From the post on quinces comes this wonderful quote:

It has the perfume of a loved woman and the same hardness of heart, but has the colour of a scrawny and impassioned lover.

Shafer ben Utman-al Mushafi, d.982

If short of quinces, you may therefore wish to try wrapping up a luscious woman in your linen cupboard to see if she imparts the same kind of pleasing fragrance to them. Lord Archers need not apply.

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[Still Life on Quinces and Nuts – Cecilia Gilabert.]

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Gunselberts. Obviously.

Farley Farm House

Farley Farm House is the former house of Lee Miller, whose war photography is currently on display at the Imperial War Museum.

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Only open for part of the year, it still feels as if Lee and her husband Roland have only just left for a walk. The beautiful garden and orchards are full of sculpture and the house itself has bold colours, with art by Roland and their friends (including Picasso) on the walls.

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Probably the most tranquil room,and one which overlooks the garden is this one, hung with a mix of Lee’s society and fashion photos, along with the the surrealist-inspired landscapes that were her first photos in 1930s Cairo.

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All photos are from the house’s website and the excellent tour focused on the art rather than a gossip review of Lee’s life.

The surrounding village is extremely pretty too and when I visited with my friend Alex around Halloween last year, we found the medieval church surrounded by the most enormous pumpkins.

Emily of Deep Valley

” ‘When may I come?’

‘Tomorrow night? I’ll make the coffee.’

Elatedly, Emily put beans to soak. Miss Fowler came from Boston, she ought to like baked beans. They would keep hot, too, in a crockery jar. The next day she baked them, according to her grandmother’s recipe, and baked brown bread and made cole slaw. She baked an apple pie and fixed the basket daintily with a lunch cloth and napkins on top….

The basket was heavy, but Emily was too happy to mind. She walked briskly over the dark slough. She was bursting with her plan. And it was fun to be taking a picnic to Miss Fowler’s. She had come to be fond of the little apartment, so warmly inviting with its fire, its books and magazines, and the pictures which always beckoned her thoughts to far-away places.”

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A favourite comfort read by Maud Hart Lovelace set in 1910 and a reminder that having a Room of One’s Own inspires others too.

The friendship between Emily and Miss Fowler, who teaches the daringly modern Browning at a local evening class and campaigns alongside Emily for the school board to provide English classes for Syrian refugees in the town, has echoes for so many women.