Wit and style

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Colleen of @vintage_egyptologst is not only stunningly beautiful with a beautiful collection of vintage dresses and full access to my Amelia Peabody fantasy life, but she is also great at using Instagram to give bite-sized lessons about bovid deities (yes, I had to look it up too), Peleset headdresses, the stage-like purpose of Egyptian temples and the civil wars of Karnak. Sign up now on Instagram to follow her for more.

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Day trips

Day trips are possibly my favourite kinds of escape. You’re still home in your own bed (revelling in cool, clean sheets for added summer pleasure) at the wnd of the day, you’ve had a pleasant and slightly special breakfast before setting off and you’ve still had a whole day of fun and exploration.

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Lyme Regis, Kings Lynn, Oxford or (my latest set of plans) the Kent Coast are all perfect for this from London. Enter Bleak House, a shop with a sideline in recommending both walks round London and day trips out of it. Both Ightham Mote and Hambledon on their list sound good – and also remind me that I want to get to Bateman’s as well before the National Trust season closes.

Podcast of the week

The Lifestyle Edit Podcast (not to be confused with another podcast that is just called “The lifestyle edit” and had two women – Rosie and Flo – talking about life in a robustly jolly, Claire Baldwin-ish manner) by Naomi Mdudu is a regular listen & one guaranteed to leave you feeling fired up in the best possible way after listening.

Each week, Naomi interviews a female business owner about how they found their business idea, what made them go solo on it, how they’ve built their business and what tips they’d share with their entrepreneurs. It’s as far away from The Apprentice and macho, ghostwritten memoirs as you can imagine.

Instead you’ll come away with gems that help you decide when to take views and when to have confidence to do it your way; how to think about the financials behind your business (not all will apply, but it’s the fact that there are different models that make these interviews useful to me) and tips to help you identify the best opportunities for you. Some I loved recently were:

– The interview with Anna Hart (*so impressive*)

– the concept of looking for flexibility that is inherent and that which is on offer as an option

– the point that flexible working needs apply just as much to non-parents looking after ageing baby boomers as it does to parents

– the question “what would the village idiot say your brand is?”

– the idea that a recurring client doesn’t just help financially, but also with defining what your business is and does

So many gems here – go and listen to it. Naomi is a fantastic interviewer too, which I think really drives the quality of these sessions.

Maria Reiche

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If Google’s user customisation means that their search engine banners are becoming a permanent rotation of amazing women, then I’m fine with that. Maria Reiche was a mathematician and archaeologist, who seems have to have been the same kind of enterprising character as Dorothy Carrington a few days ago.

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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

Harriet would have dined out on that name for a week

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Katy MacScott (@katymacscott) walked from Holland to Istanbul last year in memory of her late friend Harriet, with hops on trains to keep time, as she didn’t have as much time as Patrick Leigh Fermor did on his original journey. Now she is posting memories of her encounters on Instagram, and I particularly loved her encounters with feisty pensioners in Holland. On the first day she encountered Map and Henkel:

Map – a derivative of Margaret – approached me with a pot of jam, as I sat on a bench in the rain, in the village of Zuillichem. When she offered me a cup of coffee by the fire, I didn’t have to be asked twice…Her husband, Henkel, returned from his errands and they proceeded to tell me, in halting English, about their travels. They were now in their late 80s, but had travelled all over the Middle East in their retirement.

Henkel revealed that like many Dutch children he was sent to England after the war to recover from years of malnutrition. After another hot meal, Map and Henkel passed Katy on to a local photographer Cor de Cock (“Harriet would have dined out on that name for a week”) and eventually to Jet, a former piano teacher, with a “wicked bark” of a laugh:

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She confessed that she’d put away her wine and cigarettes before I arrived, because she thought that someone doing a trip like mine would have ‘high morals’. I quickly put her straight and we enjoyed these vices for the rest of the evening.

Over asparagus risotto and radishes Jet and Katy discussed the audio books for the blind that Jet narrates, Jet garden, Chekhov and Harry Mulisch, and her brother’s paintings.

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Women’s team

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A group of awesome women – Painted walls by Claire de quenetain; Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell’s plate of Christina of Sweden; suffragette and campaigner for women’s contraception Edith Howe-Martin; activist on men’s mental health Poorna Bell bell; “a girl in Nice” by Berthe Morisot; “the cheese shop” by Eduoard James Dambourgez

Achille Castiglione

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An Italian designer who would have been 100 in February, his studio in Milan is one of the most fascinating things I’ve seen.

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He collected objects endlessly, getting a sense of how they worked, of how they could be stretched or improved and what the most practical next steps would be.

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All photos April 2018.