An unexpected find on a walk recently, I love the mix of beautiful and elegant scripts here that have been put together with as much love and care as colours in a painting.

Haggerston, October 2017.



Sissinghurst was a place I’d long wanted to visit, and I’d tried to get there in July, but feeling rather tired had postponed it.


But last month, spurred on my the imminent end of the National Trust season and last of the summer days I set off.


If you don’t have a car, both google maps and the NT website make it unnecessarily complicated to get there from London. The quickest way is to take a train to Ashford and cab over, but it’s not the cheapest (it’ll be nearly £40 each way for the cab). Or you can wait for half an hourst Ashford, travel on another 20 minutes to Staplehurst and pick up your cab there (about £18 each way). Up to you if saving £20 is worth the extra hour on your journey. What you shouldn’t do is trust that the bus from Staplehurst will be there. It won’t – it leaves 2 minutes before your once an hour train from Ashford arrives, and on Sundays you’ll then have another two hours to wait.


Moral of the story: learn to drive, or just look big and pay up for a cab. Either way, when you get there it’s completely worth it.


Walled gardens lead off each other, doors opening into rooms of light and shade,


colours clashed and melded and everywhere the wonderful orange brick set off the leaves.


Around the edges were grand flourishes – an allee of lime trees, an abandoned statue, a lake,


a pergola of roses looking up to the sky,


and finally the orchards and vegetable gardens.


Hard to believe that this is Kent and not the American mid-West when you look at these photos.

All photos September 2017.

Jacqueline Ayer


The House of Illustration is very good at making me see artists I hadn’t heard of before (e.g. Linda Kitson), but who are very accomplished and had fascinating lives.


Jacqueline Ayer’s parents had moved from Jamaica to New York in the 1920s and Jacqueline grew up helping her father’s ad agency, the first aimed at African Americans.


Her observation for fabric and costume fed into her children’s’ illustrations when she moved to Bangkok in 1959, and after coming back to America in 1963 she founded a Thai textile line. I wish there’d been more room for her work with the Indisn government, her autobiography, and what was clearly a fascinating life, but I’d still recommend this to anybody.


Laura Wheeler Waring


Confident and dignified poses from these 1930s and 40s sitters,

Marian Anderson

a great reminder of the African-American middle class,

and also these defiant faces. Images via Pimterest, but the discovery via the Women’s Art Twitter feed.

Feed of the week

At the end of a brief phone conversation, you tell the manager you’re speaking with that you’ll come by his office to sign the form. When you arrive and announce yourself he blurts out, I didn’t know you were black!
I didn’t mean to say that, he then says.
Aloud, you say.
What? he asks.

You didn’t mean to say that aloud.
Your transaction goes quickly after that.

I went on a massive reading jag on holiday – catching up on not having time and energy to read much earlier in the summer, and excited by new books and voices.


At the perfect time, I discovered @sophia_stories, an Instagram feed for a PhD student studying modern Palestinian authors, and just #readingoutsidethebox generally.


Poetry, rap, novels of childhood memories and observations of modern life all fill her feed. What I especially like are the double posts: Sophia will flag a book when she starts reading it, and then post again in a few days with her impressions – very different from the usual Bookstagram feeds where you sense that the book was read for its cover or compatibility with some flowers and never actually read.


And the quotes…

“Instant coffee with slightly sour cream…”

“The English newsreader told me / home was a broken man, holding / a dying child, with flies round its mouth:
A story that didn’t tally”

“home begins with the spoon knocking against the rim of the pot of lentil soup”


Starting stocking your bookshelves now…