Pretties

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In fact, twice in one day because I ┬ácan’t resist: a scrapbook of Instagram pretties: Schiaparelli dresses from @the_corsetedbeauty;

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an Evelyn Dunbar sketch from @designfortoday;

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an elegant doodle from @garancedore;

 

marmalade jars and the delightful National Trust home of Standen from phil._.b;

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dogs on the beach from @thewomensroomblog

My town

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Spending an increasing amount of time round Spitalfields, an area I first discovered in my gap year and liked straight away, I was fascinated to come across this tale of the Jewish Free School that used to exist.

This article on the Spitalfields Life blog tells you more about the school and the author and pro-women’s suffrage campaigner Israel Zangwill who worked there. Zangwill’s play The Melting Pot, in praise of America’s role as home to a new society of the pioneer and traveller, was publically applauded by Theodore Roosevelt, whilst his mother’s chemical inventions included a proposal to clear the trenches of mustard gas that the War Office rejected. I can’t wait for the autumn when Persephone Books publish more about this family, and in the meantime I am off to walk a new part of London today with the Bishopsgate Institute.

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Images from the Spitalfields Life blog post.

Vienna’s history

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This is the Judenplatz, where Rachel Whiteread’s memorial to Austria’s Jews now stands. In English and German, the text refers to the murders of 1938-45, and in the streets around little cobbled squares provide sun traps for local cafes, platzes for government buildings and a chance for children to play among the art.

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June 2017.

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Passmore Edwards Sailors Palace

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At a time when government seems to be relying more on old-fashioned philanthropy to keep services running, rather exert itself to help, I was intrigued to see this building in East London recently.

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Passmore Edwards was a philanthropist of the 1890s and 1900s whose other endowments include the library that is now part of the Bush Theatre in West London. In the new century, he endowed this mock Tudor gatehouse to be a place of rest for international sailors staying in London on leave.

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Poignantly the project, opened by the Kaiser and Edward VII, fell through when WW1 broke out. But the building remains, and more can be read about it here and here.

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Apricots on the Nile

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1930s and 1940s Cairo, Alexandria and Paris mingle with elegance and sadness. I was reminded of it partly by Amy’s photos and partly by my latest book, Antonia Fraser’s memoir of wartime and post-war Oxford.

Beekeepers and Dostoevsky

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A party of six settled at the next table, all countrymen in homespun, rawhide footgear and sashes, but two in broad-brimmed hats of plaited osier, the others in cloth caps…untroubled smiles and good-humoured wrinkles round their eyes and the corners of their mouths. Anyone would have felt calm and happy in their neighbourhood. Appropriately, as I divined…they were itinerant beekeepers travelling up and down the region and tidying up the hives for the winter.

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One of many gentle passages in Patrick Leigh Fermor’s conclusion to his trilogy of his walk from Holland to Turkey in the mid-1930s, The Broken Road. I also liked his description of reading in bed in a loft above a wheelwright’s shop on a rainy day (“Dostoevsky ever since, and even the mention of his name, evokes a momentary impression of rain and fresh-sawed wood.”), or meeting the hotel-maid Rosa, who treated him to a nannyish scolding for wet shirts and lost belongings, and whom he treated in return by taking her to a showing of The Blue Angel, which evokes memories of her time in Vienna as lady’s maid to a grand hostess.

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