Tuesday, 22 April 2014

On reflection...

...I should have walked further...
 Thank goodness ( before I edited this post I had rather appropriately, yet unwittingly, written thank Godness! )Mr.Lane dragged me, my chocolate choked body and my chocolate crazed labradog across Ashdown Forest yesterday.

On reflection, yes, I should have walked further, eaten less, imbibed less...But I wouldn't change the laughter or the company...and I didn't need the chocolate for either of those things to be true.
The walking was good~the noticing was better. 
Rich chocolate-eggy coloured landscape wrapped in felty green.
Silty holes filled with fresh rainfall magnifying paw prints, hair floating into grassy tufts, silvered mercury puddles with me in them. That watery girl half wanted to stay there, staring back skywards....
 ...I should have walked further...

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Floral Circus

Persephone has lead me a merry Spring dance this week. Showering me with flora at every turn, confetti like abundance...she conducts the Circus of blossom with great deftness, it's heady and it's seductive, slowly you realise you're a little drunk on nectar.

Rosy dawn arrives with her misty veil and cherry blossom bunting...
The girl on the train had feathery long lashes and the tiniest nose. Blonde wisps gathered in tiny clips...she reminded me of  a flower fairy...
In Carnaby Street, spring bulbs!
...and around the corner, outside Liberty, velvety fragrant abundance, symphonic colour...
Walking on towards Shepherds Market, Act 1, Scene 2 of  us* 
Blown sideways like a spore, I hadn't anticipated the nostalgia. It's a thrill to be here, there's "our" Trattoria. 

I open the gallery door and there is an abundance of paint ordered by Virginia's brush strokes. 
Blowsy bouquets in oil and acrylic dance across the walls whilst patterned chickens cavort amongst them.
At home, a desire to catalogue, capture all. 
I snip buds and bracts. Petals spin in the breeze I try to catch them, elusive as snowflakes.
I will press these and later, when I find them again, all tissue paper thin, delicate corpses I will have this spring moment again. 
I begin to imagine each flower is a costume in a Spring Circus.
I hastily draw a tent. Laughing, I answer the phone.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm making a flower Circus!"
"Of course you are!" 
We laugh.
 That night I fall into a heavy hay feverish sleep and I dream of the Circus...
* After we met in Act 1, Scene 1, Jolly Harbour. Mr.Lane and I would meet up every Friday in Shepherd's Market. 
I longed for Fridays all week.

**Virginia Griffith-Jones is exhibiting recent works in Shepherd's Market. Hurry though as it finishes Friday. Details here.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Shooting Buttercups

Have you ever looked at a favourite book or magazine and thought "I wonder where that is?" I have, often. So it was, with rather a large dose of excitement, I sqwuaked "That's our buttercup field!" when I saw a preview of Selina Lake's new book featured in last weekend's YOU magazine.
That old velvet chair has never looked so good!
Styling by Selina Lake, photograph by Debi Treloar
One fairytale kind of day, last May, Selina Lake and Debi Treloar came to begin shooting for Selina's new book Outdoor Living.
I say a fairytale kind of day as the light was amazing, shimmering and I have long admired both Selina and Debi's work, so it was a genuine thrill to meet them! Selina's car was brimful with gorgeous props and flowers and the lovely Jess!
I am visualising the ridiculous sight of my landrover trundling up The Lane with a large pine dining table dangling out of the back whilst Jess wrestled with it in order to keep it on board! 
We were heading for the buttercup meadow which sits further up The Lane. 
Selina conjured up a gorgeous tablescape...Debi got to work and the whole scene is now immortalised in Outdoor Living.
Styling by Selina Lake, photograph by Debi Treloar

The sofa that lives in the Cowshed (Don't ask!) found its way outdoors, Selina Layered it with crochet and cushions, mini lampshades were hung in the trees, it looked so inviting, the perfect reading spot...I sat there long into the evening...until Mr. Lane helpfully pronounced that the dew was settling and soggy sofa was not the way forward!

My home is a visual history. Every object however shabby and unlikely has a past known to me.Every granny square, whether hand stitched by Magpie for my dolls when I was small  or squirreled from a junk shop or scored by my MIL from Mawnan Smith Craft Fair in the gaudiest colours she could find! ( Totally against her nature but knowing I would adore the clash!) Old quilts and Grandpa's hat...kept and past on by the women folk. Seems most appropriate to be musing on these things on Mother's Day.
 No surprise then, when I tell you that two brand new books are wrapped and waiting to be given to the Magpie and the MIL. Where and what would I be without you?
Sending you and all Mum's golden cross stitches, arm-fulls of buttercups...threads of love, sewn kisses.

Selina's book Outdoor Living was published this week by Ryland Peters & Small and is available from all good bookshops ( Snort! I've always wanted to say that! )
In case you were wondering the lovely cushions on my sofa are a mixture of Cottage Industry and Cath Kidston. The gorgeous mini lampshades were made by Folly & Glee.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Venice part 2: Per Rialto Mercato

Inadequate, I don't know if I have the words to describe the way I feel when I arrive at a food market.
 I have a hunch that it may reflect a little of Boodle's unbridled joy when I return home. Helicopter tail* and involuntary wiggling...hmm, that's definitely it...my virtual helicopter tail whirls and twirls when I arrive at a food market.I know that my labrador like enthusiasm for life can be unnerving for some and for the most part I manage to keep it well concealed beneath a reserved English exterior but, from time to time it bursts through and manifests in a twirl, clap, squeal.( Those dearest to me are rolling their eyes. )

I wandered open mouthed. My head was dancing with scrolls of recipes...ingredients galore presented me with myriad possibilities. I wish I could distill the glorious pleasure in visiting this bustling canalside market into a tonic I could bottle. A feast for one's soul, as good as all those oranges squeezed and drunk fresh, pith and all.

* Helicopter tail : rapid circular swish with occaisional side swings.See fig.1 below... Also involuntary floor thumps if too tired to get up.
...and this after I had been gone an hour..if you look carefully you'll spot my helicopter twirling too...

Monday, 10 March 2014

Venice Part 1: Lungo il Canale

Arriving in Venice for the first time is akin to being thrown inside a giant kaleidoscope full of magical buildings, palaces, statues, bridges, turquoise canals, stripes, flags, posts, boats...all tumbled together in the most perfect random arrangements. Street after street, alley on alley, lane after lane and always water on your left, no right, no I mean straight ahead! You wonder, could there be a more perfect arrangement of  architecture and waterway than the one you are currently marveling at and then you cross an impossible tiny stone bridge or turn the tightest corner and there is another...and another...
The colours of Venice are divine...the combinations. Venice is rose and teal. Darkest green and turquoise. Terracotta and soft grey. Blush and faded Shrimper sail red.
I love to get acquainted with new cities. "Before you get your eye in" as Mr.Lane would say. 
All is new and wondrous, it is a heightened experience, like being a child again.
I am most alive when I am noticing. The smells, the sounds, the people. 
The market is invariably the starting point. 
Head to the market and all will be revealed.*
I have long associated Venice with two incredible films. 
Visconti's Death in Venice starring Dirk Bogarde, adapted from Thomas Mann's masterpiece, with that ravishing Mahler score. And Nicholas Roeg's chilling adaptation of a Daphne Du Maurier story, Don't Look Now starring Julie Christie and Donald Sutherland. I wondered if I had too many preconceptions to really see the city for myself. Imagine the thrill of seeing Venice for the first time with no prior knowledge! I needn't have worried... there is so much more to discover beyond the tourist trail.
Venice beguiles you, being at once familiar and yet tricksy to navigate. We stayed in the quieter area of Santa Croce and wandered the narrow streets unflustered, knowing eventually we would spot a landmark and navigate from it. If all else failed we stopped for coffee or gelato...
At times it seemed the Gods were gently turning the kaleidoscope a quarter turn and all the streets were shuffled, just as you think you have the hang of it.
Meanwhile, back at the Lane, it seems a corner has been turned...there is blossom and birdsong...

Post Script: I changed the title of this post several times, feeling I sounded rather Cecil Vyse. Then, on reflection I realised I probably am a little Cecil ( sans the pince nez! )
* Back soon at the market!