Monday, 20 October 2014

Birthday Week Special: 7 Things from 7 Days



My birthday week didn't start out too well. Getting older x that time of the month + bad weather is never going to make for a happy me. I"m quite prone to being a bit happy-being-miserable on these occasions... but really that isn't an option when you have small people who are often much more excited by your birthday than you are; so despite my overly dramatic and grumpy efforts to just CANCEL my birthday I actually went on to have a lovely day... and a pretty good week too - so I'm entering the last year of my thirties in good spirits.

1. On the actual day Hugh took the afternoon off and we went for tea at The Wolseley - a tower of sandwiches, cakes, scones and a couple of glasses of champagne later we wandered through the slightly gloomy Green Park where the children proceeded to collect loads of sticks "for the fire!"... not the best idea when you have to get on a rush-hour tube to get home again.

2. My birthday flowers have been keeping my desk looking cheerful - also I did get the bag and the pegboard on my wish list. This blog really does have it's advantages!

3. On Wednesday I had a rare day out with my Mum. I needed some new jeans so I dragged her along... she is my best shopping partner though, things I buy with my Mum's blessing often become my staples. Plus she even convinced me to buy some non-jeans. I'm still in shock. I now have some black and grey leopard print tracksuit-ish trousers. They are much better than they sound, honestly. We made a pilgrimage to stationery heaven where my Mum bought me my 2015 diary (this has become a bit of a tradition) and I got the cover stamped with my initials - stationery / typeface overload. Quite the birthday treat.

4. Sunday was spent mainly in the pub. A roast, good friends, good conversation and children running riot.

5. I had an evening at The London Review Bookshop in Bloomsbury for the launch of my friends second volume of poetry - What Things Are by Agnieszka Studzinska - She has been writing this collection over the last couple of years - it's her third child in a way. I'm hopefully going to be sharing a piece from the collection on here in the next couple of weeks. 

6. On Saturday we had a bit of a garden session - prepping for winter, putting away the garden furniture and clearing the veg patch. The compost bin is now full to the brim and the veg patch is looking a bit bare. The final harvest of tomatoes and the last courgettes are going to be made into our first every chutney.



7. The mantlepiece with my birthday post... these cards will probably stay up until it's nearly Coco's birthday next month, then it will be Christmas quickly followed by Henry's birthday... suddenly it feels like we are tumbling into winter and yet I don't think these are last of the dahlias.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

My Visual To Do List

Some bits and pieces from around the house this morning...
A sort of visual to-do list.



The bookshelves need a bit of a sort and tidy - it's time to get rid of some baby books.
These blue butterflies have been stuck up here for years - they were going to be a mobile for a friends baby. He is about to be four.
Need a notebook? Now you know where to find one.



It's time to pack away our summer attire I think. No need for sun hats for a few months...



After my post about my great aunt Hilda's paintings my Dad found this poppy painting by her on Ebay for a tenner! Need to reframe and hang it - along with the other little one beside it.
Also - this cabinet. We've had it for almost a year and it needs some love. I have vague, grand and not entirely formulated plans for it - but I'm not quite sure how and where to start.



 This lamp stand was a bargain, but it needs a shade...



Do you have a stash of things that need fixing in your house? This Chinese Checkers board needs to be added to ours... I have romantic notions of sitting by the fire and play back-gammon and Chinese Checkers with Coco this winter.



And then there's the garden, so much to do out there; and the windows that need cleaning too. Oh I do spoil you all with these photos of shade-less lamps and dirty windows.

Friday, 10 October 2014

A Plate Wall - Yes or No?


Plates via my Pinterest board

I very clearly remember the day about 15 years ago that I went around to a friends for supper and after a couple of glasses of wine (I'm sure) ended up teasing her about how grown up she was now she had a plate on the wall. Fast forward a few of years and suddenly having plates on the wall became something that I was doing... I'm quite a magpie when it comes to china and there are so many lovely designs out there that being able to have a gradually expanding collection of plates hung on the wall was actually very pleasing... (and of course I was a bit more grown up myself by then).

However due to the recent delivery of (drum roll...) ... our new sofa* I'm now having a bit of a re-think about my plate wall.



Up to about two weeks ago - this was what our plate wall was like.

But it is no more...  the toy cupboard has taken their place - as the sofa is where the toy cupboard was. Are you following? I wonder if I'm not really cut out for interiors posts...

So now the plates are just piled up - waiting for the day that we might have the energy to put up again.





In fact there are some plates that have never even made on the wall - like the Tord Boontje plate (the red and white patterned one) that was a 30th birthday present (nearly 10 years ago... ahhhhh) and the Missoni saucer (the black and white one above) which lost it's cup in an unfortunate accident.

The longer the plates sit there the more I'm wondering if we really want to put them up again? I don't know if I'm feeling a bit over plate walls? Or is it that our collection of plates is just a little too eclectic?

I'm thinking we have four options:
1. Put the plates away and use them as plates - radical I know.
2. Put them back up in the kitchen over the new sofa.



I had a go at mocking up what they could look like... Apologies for my very rough photo-montage, but you get the idea right? Oh and you get to see the new sofa.
I also added in the lights we'd originally intended to get here but have yet to buy (they are the Hector wall lights by Original BTC).

3. Or we could put them up in our downstairs loo?



I like a bit of pattern clash... but would it be extra-odd to have plates up in a loo? Also the room is tiny and there are quite a lot of plates, plus I LOVE this Svensk Tenn wallpaper and wouldn't want to cover too much of it up.


4. The other option would be putting them up in the sitting room.



I think this would look quite good as the dark walls are a great compliment to pattern (the conclusion I reached after some extensive Pinterest research...) but again, plates in a sitting room, bit odd? Or not?

I do love this little collection of plates that we've gathered over the years... but... Oh! I'm so bad at making decisions!

*Just in case you want the sofa details....
This sofa was a long time coming. I've been looking out for a sofa that would fit in this space for ages. It's 185cm which in sofa terms seems to be a bit of a non-length. They either come as three-seaters which are normally around two metres or as two seaters which are around 165 cm. Anyway - we eventually found this one in Aria in Islington (it's called the Aspen) and it's the perfect fit for the space and gives us a lovely view of the garden... now I'm on the look out for a rug. Got to have a reason to trawl interiors websites, shops & markets - having a purpose in life is very important (you get my sarcasm here right)?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Books We Love: The Queens Beasts by Sophie Bristow



The Queens Beasts by Sophie Bristow, illustrated by Sophie Glover
We discovered this book back in the summer on a visit to Kew Gardens. Well Coco and her friend Scarlet discovered it first - I found them sitting in the shop reading it together when I'd been distracted by something (the shop at Kew often has that effect on me).



The story is about Lizzie who lives with her parents in the grounds of Kew Gardens so she gets to explore in the evening after all the visitors have left... The Queens Beasts of the title are statues which Lizzie might have something to do with bringing to life (or she might not - don't want to publish any spoilers)!



As we spend a lot of time at Kew many of the scenes are very familiar to us... I'm pretty sure those cacti are in the Princess of Wales conservatory for example and I love the waterlily house, there is something about those leathery leaves and giant flowers... also seeing them reminds me of when Henry used to call lilypads i-lilypads.



And of course it had to feature the Palm House too....
The illustrations are quite intriguing being partly made with collage - very much in keeping with the story which has quite a few themes running through it. It's a good one to appeal to both Coco and Henry at the moment.
The book also really struck me when we found as my Mum had just given me a stack of old photos to look at and among them was this one...



Me, my Mum and my brother standing by one of the Queens Beasts, which to be honest I'd never particularly noticed before.
This photo, taken by my Grandpa on a trip to Kew with us must be circa. 1981 (total guess... I think I look about six or seven)?
So, of course we had to have a go at replicating the photo...



Me, Coco and Henry, Summer 2014. What a difference 30 odd years makes eh!?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Birthday Wish List

It's nearly my birthday.
That time of year where I spend way too much time thinking about me and asking myself questions such as "What am I going to do when now I'm grow up...?"

So in the spirit of thinking about myself I've put together a little birthday wishlist. I've cheated slightly in that I know I'm getting one of the things below (I was here when it was delivered...) but here are a few things I quite fancy treating myself too. Or maybe rather than a treat I should look at it as a consolation prize for still not knowing what I want to do when I grow up.



1. Kaleido Trays by Hay
I bought three of these for myself recently (and used them for my September 'styling the seasons' post) but I'd love a couple more. They are just so pleasing and the colour palatte is delicious.

2. From Here to There
In quite a standard move for this time of year I've started a new course. It's on skillshare and it's about map making... this is one of the recommended items on the reading list...

3. On The Map
... as is this book - which I'm pretty sure I'll like as I really enjoyed Just my Type which was also written by Simon Garfield - which was a book about fonts - but it's got such good stories about the fonts and the designers and it really makes you think about all the type around you in a new way. Honestly. It's good.

4. M. Hulot Cross Body Bag
I spotted this bag at Design Junction but didn't buy it... (I did spend quite some time umming & urring about buying it) but I'm still thinking about it...

5. Merino Wool Jumper by Uniqlo
I'm wondering about having another go at designing customising some clothing (like I did here) and wondering if I should take on some wool. What do you think.... bleach? Liberty print patches? I'd quite like to have a go.

6. Large Peg Board by Block
Somewhere else to put stuff. Enough said really.

If, on the other hand I had a fairy god-mother who could grant me some birthday wishes I think I'd be going for the following:
1. More patience - am finding myself losing my temper with my children a little too often at the moment (I blame the stress of not knowing what I want to do when I grow up)
2. To be organised! I fantasize occasionally about having a PA for a few days - the nearest I'd get to a fairy god-mother, someone to help me get on top of the muddle and chaos...
3. To have a finished house. Yep, never going to happen, because, well... lack of organisation and patience.

Monday, 6 October 2014

The Wool Ride: A Leisurely Cycle Through London

Yesterday we had the pleasure of joining in with the Wool Ride - a lovely cycle through the middle of London in the crisp morning sunshine.

It was 95% wonderful and 5% hair-raising as we had both Coco and Henry cycling with us on the roads (we figured there was some safety in numbers with the other 300 or so riders and we both stayed very close to our children).

The ride was organised to mark the beginning of wool week so we all dutifully donned our favourite woolen items for the cycle.



Coco waiting for the tube to take us to Potters Fields and the beginning of the ride - wearing one of my old favourites, a black cashmere scarf by Luella.
Underneath her (non-wool) Ruff & Huddle jumper Coco is wearing a wool dress with tutu skirt - perfect cycling attire for a six year old!



Henry with his coffee (well, hot chocolate) and pastry courtesy of 'Look Mum No Hands' wearing his Tootsa MacGinty hand-me-down foxy jumper and body warmer - he has been insisting on wearing his sandals everyday and I only just managed to get him to wear socks and shoes this morning...



Getting fueled up with food prior to setting off...



We had some family fun taking snaps, and checking out some live wool, aka sheep, while we waited for other cyclists to gather... it was such a beautiful morning.



Hugh, who frankly has the most choice in our family when it comes to cycling clobber, wore for his merino wool top by On-one-bikes - and his Finisterre body warmer which was bought in yellow as it was on sale. Hugh's wardrobe is becoming increasingly brightly coloured as he pretty much always buys sale items which means he buys the item he likes in the colours no one else wanted. See the shoes below as example 2.
Hugh and Henry ended up cycling with people from Finisterre on the ride who were wearing some of their wool range... which no doubt Hugh is now after (just checked out the womenswear and it does look rather nice actually).



By some miracle Coco managed to win Hugh some Lyle & Scott* Argyle socks by getting a hole-in-one at the little pitch and putt challenge they had set up. I think Hugh was quite pleased to be able to put these straight on as it was a nippy morning... and I'd vetoed his original socks prior to departure. There's only so much Hugh-style I can take sometimes.
*(Lyle & Scott are offering 15% off on their website this week I see)



So, after food, golf, photos, sheep inspection and last wees we get to the actual ride.
The route was mapped out to wind it's way along the south bank, over London bridge, down the Stand, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Regents St, Oxford St a bit of Mayfair and then into Hyde Park, Knightsbridge, Buckingham Palace and then Westminster before heading back over the bridge and back along the Southbank to Tower Bridge again. In total 13 miles.
Here's how we got on with our mini cyclists...



Still going strong after a mile or so as we head over London Bridge... (complete with Big Ben chiming in the background). This is the point at which Coco and I fell behind Hugh and Henry - partly as I was faffing trying to get this photo!



Regents Street - on the traffic free stretches we just cycled along chatting - a bit like you can see the couple ahead of us doing. I'm not sure Coco really understood what a novelty the whole ride was - but she certainly enjoyed it...



Meanwhile Hugh and Henry were charging ahead - they waited for us just before we got into Hyde Park for this lovely gentle downhill stretch... this used to be part of my daily commute.

Once we got to Buckingham Palace Coco's energy levels were waning so we broke off from the ride and went down the Mall instead making our way back to embankment tube station...





After 9 miles of cycling Hugh took a photo with me in it - as you can see I was also wearing my foxy jumper by Tootsa MacGinty... it was a tough choice as I'm really rather partial to a woolly jumper!



Saying goodbye to the boys - amazingly Hugh managed to get Henry and four bikes home - then they went to the pub... meanwhile Coco and I went off on another adventure. But that is a tale for another day.

It was such a pleasure to take part in this event - thank you very much to the folks at the Campaign for Wool for inviting us along - I can't quite believe how far our kiddos managed to ride.

Friday, 3 October 2014

This Morning in the Garden

flowers from my garden by alexis at www.somethingimade.co.uk
This morning I spent a bit of time pottering in the garden; I'm a little in overwhelmed by how much there is to do out there to be honest, we have a couple of beds that need a lot of work as they haven't been that successful and in other places we have plants that are too big so need to be moved/split... plus I need to get on it with bulbs soon (but, oh the choices).

I'm a total garden novice which is why I think I get a bit scared by the jobs too. So instead of breaking out of my comfort zone I stuck to what I know. Deadheading, a bit of weeding - plus some harvesting. And taking photos of it all naturally. Ideal to enter the #fridayfaffingcompetition on instagram. It's kind of multi-tasking right!?



A few small flowers for the press...



Sunflowers in October





My helper





I love these anemone seed heads (or dead heads) I couldn't face just chucking them straight on the compost!