From the family album

91CC0367-9128-48F1-9AF6-937844208263

*Exactly* how I looked as a child (ho ho, not), although obviously I posted this for the fabulous jewellery set – brooch, ring, bracelet – and well-turned ankle of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

The short front skirt and sweeping train reminds me of Louisa’s wedding dress in The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford (“as was the hideous fashion then”), although no signs of the frills of tulle and orange blossom here.

Summer dresses

CA2F2D1D-04EF-4106-90D6-3E0B859B7A5F85EA71D7-42C9-429F-8FAF-E2850D124CD5

with the rising temperatures come the catalogues full of summer dresses. These ones from Hush perfectly capture a sense of hot, languid afternoons.

A301BD50-18C5-4FB2-8922-47E9B65315DB

Quite like this one but my shape’s changed over the last year and it wouldn’t work for me now

47979DCC-E055-45E7-B7F0-2EA6BB51C56B

Also like these very different, brightly coloured offerings from Mother of Pearl. I’m a sucker for a bright red/blue combination like this.

Westminster Abbey

From a fun day playing tourist in my own city. If I’m honest, I don’t think that the Abbey gives the best experience – you’re squeezed round a pre-set, tightly-cordened route like being shoved through a toothpaste tube and photos are strictly forbidden.

C05AD079-D00E-4EB4-A4DE-874204FD49401640AED5-4909-4274-8CB9-AA6FE0E9EF20FB4CE5D8-DC35-4F39-A333-D5C197CD832A

Worst of all, the atmosphere was one of prissy disapproval, which I found rather disappointing when each tourist is being charged at least £20 to get in. Yes, there’s an important balance to be struck between a place of worship and a tourist attraction but – with the exception of some kindly volunteers – the clergy here seemed to have a strong “hands off our abbey, aren’t you lucky we let you in” approach written all over them. Very disappointing.

1E46D932-E04C-4E94-BC68-AD8CD54933D9B002D893-4438-4354-93B0-884F0FC2969DAC95B4D5-3833-47C1-803E-9E18AAC3D723

You would at least hope that there was an acceptance that any visitors were prepared to be interested and respectful, otherwise they’d hardly have queued up for an hour to get in. I’d be interested to know what out of town visitors think.

FD43BCCF-5DD5-4649-AEEE-4D071284BFF70640E745-4266-4315-ACCC-FA4DD3772FD5F730B522-A06D-455B-B598-A23290E9D7B8D80A6FB2-CCDD-448D-9840-62280CB667A0

However, being as stubborn as they come, I did get some photos thank you…

149B2767-4C8F-4445-AF1C-097DD9D9E5CC660096DA-F157-42D1-AC45-B639BF10F6538F47F535-EAF7-4785-AD37-8A1FEB9239EF

The most interesting parts I thought were the side chapels of various noble families (which still had a pre-Reformation feel of jostling for position near the altar) and the main chapel behind the altar.

0B4E6C90-B03D-49ED-88F5-674C6558F8CD92A1B2D0-F417-49E9-AB5F-7582AD5F991559B95634-BDDB-4A8A-8022-5FC86B5041A2CD2646FF-D0C4-4A23-A686-D67CA74E20A3

All photos May 2018.

 

Granite Island

We envied the Cesari. They had leisure, and we had not had any for several years. The farm work seldom needed more than two of the brothers at any one time; the sisters got through the household chores in a couple of hours of the day. In the long intervals between work Francois shot hare in the maquis that Antoinette cooked in a pot on the open fire with olive oil and whole cloves of garlic; Antoine and Jean-Baptiste repainted the living-room, experimenting with pale Etruscan red framing several shades of blue and grey; Marie embroidered sheets with intricate patterns of roses; Pierette studied a book of the geography of the world….there were hours too when no-one did anything…

In London I had not taken the true measure of our deprivations. I had not understood how far  my daily load of anxiety was a craving for the things every peasant know: space, silence and food that was not stale.

Dorothy Carrington first went to Corsica in 1948, and large sections of the book are infused with a postwar melancholy about the effects of civilisation and the need to retreat to a rough landscape and older society.

But there’s also a much more contemporary zest, akin to Patrick Leigh Fermor’s writings, of discovering beautiful vistas and a motley crew of companions, albeit in Dorothy’s case more archaeologists and shepherds than Leigh Fermor’s east European aristocracy and Consuls.

The simmering pot was taken off the fire; it contained a mutton stew, thick with vegetables. But first we had plates of smoked ham and several varieties of smoked sausage, and tomatoes and raw onions swimming in the local unrefined olive oil which gave to all this food a provocative musky flavour; and afterwards came a homemade cheese made of ewes’ milk, oddly tasting for nuts, and finally small, very sweet melons.

If the book had stayed with this it would have been nice enough – I am enthusiastically reading myself into the holiday I’m currently dreaming of – but what makes it really special is that quite soon, Carrington turns the book into a serious and detailed history of Corsican society, from the mountain peaks to the fishermen, from the vendetta, the folk singers, the people cursed to predict and bring death to those they know and the soothsayers, from the revolutionaries who attempted a parliamentary democracy in the 1730s to the prehistoric statues and spirit huts near the capital Ajaccio.

This was completely fascinating – Carrington’s love for Corsica comes through, and she must have carried out huge amounts of research, from Greek texts to political treatises, but wears it lightly. Most praiseworthy of all, she definitely lives up to that other heroine, Gertrude Bell, in her willingness to scale a mountain in pursuit of an archaeological quarry.

The Garden Museum

6A1271E6-8472-4069-8548-4E9A9FDE8E08

I last visited the garden museum with @saintofsoho just before it closed for a two year renovation, and hadn’t been back since, despite its mention in one of my favourite books.

CC422F0D-6D73-4B90-BEB3-87F87A7FCBB9377A199F-A3A6-4739-97A0-37994D3A8643

However, the Cedric Morris exhibition did lure me there on a sunny weekend recently. As well as the permanent collection, excellent cafe and courtyard garden designed by Dan Pearson, I thoroughly enjoyed this show of 1930s-1950s art by painter and iris-breeder Cedric Morris. (By the way, didnyou know that the Norwegian painter Astrup was best known in his day as a rhubarb breeder? There must be some kind of natural link between the talents…)

930E887C-C4F0-4ED6-B054-330A8119D1D39487B57C-2B96-4711-86A6-FF6A7904D17E4C8737A3-6DAA-45CA-B0BC-6F3728C0E3BB

There’s also a pair exhibitin at Philip Mould gallery until 22 July of Morris’ paintings of Portugal and Ireland that I’m keen to see and which is free.

0EDAC605-68BC-4F7D-ACC8-D6D7E695178B2739584E-4982-4247-8049-460E60D93556D8FE885E-29A7-4FBC-A438-8A3B534A0851

Art ideas

As part 361 of my ongoing rant about how art and decoration don’t need to be expensive, fancy or hard to find to look wonderful, I bring forward more witnesses for my cause. First up:

128676CE-BF39-4F9E-B45C-678E9FB1F3D389199719-E053-454F-A8F7-E414BDCD344E

these two scribble pieces, one from @jyoungdesignhouse and one from Danielle Moss of “The Everyday Girl”. I imagine they’d be quite satisfying to recreate.

8FE664F9-CA98-406D-A55E-0F4D1C5E7F3815FCFA97-C915-405E-B56A-DC0409D5B51B2E3A28A8-1033-4ABD-A9AF-9279732D9B16

Next up, again by @jyoungdesignhouse, I like these easy ways to add punk to a bit of regency art. I could see it being easy to add a splash of acrylic to a postcard bought on holiday, and then you could either clip it up, put it on the fridge, or carry the joke on and frame it in the biggest ornate frame you can buy. It reminds me a bit of this simple but effective series too.

0C3CD5AD-1A89-44A9-9EFD-8D9657D2AA08

And lastly, from @nicoledavisinteriors, this corner of family photos. Although the style is way preppier than I’d go for myself, I like the reminder of making something special out of an otherwise empty corner. It also reminds me of my favourite Cup of Jo house tour with the red frames.

Back in the park

DD8C79E7-2623-423B-8ED1-2160AA32126032E19000-4C93-4581-872B-13D73D4EC44340108301-67F1-445E-A60E-D1A2D4927371FE79CD32-E9EF-4F81-B8A5-A6EF9BA34792

Regent’s Park is definitely one of my favourite things in London, whether it’s the rose garden in late spring, the alleys as summer gets underway or even the open fields near the zoo for a winter stomp round.

954C0D68-A8A0-4151-B678-00B2D5B5564F1F24C4D3-2B37-48D2-99CE-4B877FC1B56205C8E48B-0F6A-4847-A905-03639BF2BF0CFDDD7481-B1B3-4F09-94A2-8C46212A04D1D0987E6B-06E6-4CA8-88A8-F7D52940C09F

On the first May bank holiday London emptied, as it always does, and the best bits were left for the tourists: stripes deckchairs in the sun, reflections in the lake, fighting geese and herons on a pond.

D28F6836-B2EA-43B1-8112-9D70855F9F73C73C7708-8CB7-4890-A22F-D742A079680B56B17507-17E6-4EB9-BE3A-416EB6B69691

Its hard to believe there isn’t a filter on these photos, but the golden hour really was that good.

All photos May 2018.