Tuesday, 25 April 2017

'Home' for Easter.

I left Yorkshire when I went to London as a student and never returned, it's well over half a century since I was a permanent resident there. Even so it's the place that I think of as home. Once my parents' house had been sold the thought of visiting it once more was daunting. It had always been a door that was open, lift the latch, call out, 'I'm here!' and walk straight in. The new owners were happy to show me around, anxious that their alterations didn't upset me. I was delighted to see what sympathetic restoration they were doing to the old house. Everything was fine until it was time to leave, then the familiar sound of the door sneck undid me, the sound that had marked all my comings and goings. I had walked through that doorway on my wedding day.
But, how lucky am I because the door is still always open and the welcome as warm as ever.
Photographing the latch.

Lorraine  has decorated the porch with flowers.

And an Easter branch in the sitting room.

I went upstairs to admire the super new bathroom.

Before my wedding the house was full of relatives and they had used up all the hot water by the time I came to have my bath - the bride-to-be was left to have a cold bath!The bathroom then was very plain with an old cast-iron roll-top, claw foot bath that I loved, green 'marble' lino on the floor and white walls. Some time later on a visit home I discovered to my horror that my father had 'modernised' the bathroom, rearranged the walls, thrown out the lovely old bath and replaced it with a truly hideous canary yellow suite. Now the new owners have happily sent all that yellow to the scrap heap and put a fine roll top back in place. The room looks far grander than ever it did before!
Only the window is familiar.
The bathroom decorations amused me.

Easter involves a bit of chocolate eating and the First Born brought this elegant little box.
All the white chocolates had disappeared before I could get my camera out!
We looked in Betty's window to see what was on offer.

Cakes for tea
and a Yorkshire tart!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Free the streets

Every first Sunday in the month the town of Frome closes the streets to traffic and holds an artisan market. It has become a great success, so much so that people come from miles around, music plays and the town takes on a party atmosphere. I've noticed that the nature of the stalls has changed somewhat  over the years as the the crowds have become more dense.
It used to be mainly craft, 'vintage' clothing and bric-a-brac but food has now become a big feature of the event and, my, it does look tempting! The bakemonger is one of my favourite stalls. She is a wonderfully creative cake designer. Do take a look at her site, www.thebakemonger.com to see what lovely things she makes.

Quite apart from the goods for sale it's a great place for people watching. This stall holder was busy tying on one of the headscarves that she was selling when I first spotted her.
Socks and a yellow satchel!
And this little girl had obviously chosen her outfit with care.

What did we buy?
I bought these tiny, tinny jelly moulds. from a stall specialising in '50's goods. They were 50p a pop! When I got home and washed them I noticed the stamp on one of the rims. 'With the compliments of the makers of Chiver's jellies.' They had obviously been given away free with every packet of Chivers jelly.
Himself bought a good sized chunk of Cheddar from one of his favourite makers.
We walked back to our car beside the allotments and I had a peek to see what everyone was up to.
Lots of activity and some good raised beds.
Time to get back to my own plot!

Wednesday, 22 March 2017


This week I've dodged the hailstones and high winds by going into town to look at a couple of exhibitions. They could not have been more different. At the Victoria Gallery in Bath they are showing an amazing collection of photographs, a profoundly disturbing assemblage of images, many of them very well known.The background information was fascinating; two versions of Russian soldiers, the initial untouched print displayed above the one that was used, where plumes of smoke had been added to the sky for dramatic effect and the second watch on the soldier's wrist blocked out so that there could be no suspicion of looting!
The stories that the photos captured were heart-rending and when I came to the final image I reflected that virtually all this tragedy has taken place in my own lifetime and still continues. Carnage on the streets of London today. How strange that many of these photos can also be described as beautiful. One example is of a soldier during the Irish troubles photographed in closeup behind his shield. The shield is battered, scratched and scored so that the very large print appears marked in a painterly fashion. Another photograph, printed on a massive scale, is surely a vision of hell, soldiers caught in the instant of an exploding mine. The whole surface is a whirlwind of moving fragments. This exhibition is a must see if you are anywhere near Bath.
From there I walked up the street (clinging on to my brolly) to

to see
Quite a difference! People having fun, being silly, enjoying life. The detail above is from a painting of a country wedding. Once again the background information was very interesting and helpful, with a family tree to sort out which  Bruegel I was looking at! I was surprised that a painting on display of tulip gardens had once been owned by the Pre-Raphaelite artist Rossetti.

Tuesday, 31 January 2017


This week I'm joining Barbara, the hostess of Tuesday Intros, with a book of short stories that I chose from our travelling library. It's a service that is very much under threat as councils try to make their money stretch. Ali Smith's book is her plea for the continuation of a library service that is free to all.
This is the information on the flyleaf.

The stories are interspaced with reflections from a variety of people on the value of libraries.
The book opens with
Here's a true story. Simon, my editor, and I had been meeting to talk about how to put together this book you're reading right now. We set off on a short walk across central London to his office to photocopy some stories I'd brought with me.
Just off Covent Garden we saw a building with the word LIBRARY above its doors.
It didn't look like a library. It looked like a fancy shop.
What do you think it is? Simon said.
Let's see, I said.
We crossed the road and went in.
Everything inside was painted black. There was a little vestibule and in it a woman was standing behind a high reception desk. She smiled a hello. Further in, ahead of us, I could just glimpse some people sitting at a table and we could hear from behind a thin partition wall the sounds of people drinking and talking.
Hello, we said. Is this a library?
The woman lost her smile.
No, she said.

The travelling library stops right outside our garden gate. I've always joked that as long as I'm able to stagger down the garden path as an old lady to select my books then I shall be alright. Now there is a very real risk that the library will no longer exist before ever I get to the staggering stage!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Tuesday Intros.

I've just finished reading this book by the popular English playwright and novelist, Michael Frayn. It's the answer to a request from his daughters to know something about his childhood and gives a warm portrait of his father whilst describing his own journey from child to adult. I think the first chapters suffer from information that the family may well find riveting  but that is frankly rather boring for other readers. Biographies and autobiographies are fascinating for what they leave out and this book is no exception, too much information one minute, then gliding over situations that would fascinate the next.
Here is the opening page.
If you've read any of his novels or seen his plays then it may be of interest to you.
Joining up with Barbara who hosts Tuesday Intros.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Visible Monday - well wrapped up.

Today was somewhat more visible than usual for we were out to lunch with friends to celebrate Himself's birthday. After a murky start to the day the sun eventually broke through. We are lucky to have a good place to eat in the village where we live and arrived on the dot of one in time to greet our friends.
Although the sun was shining it was cold and we were well wrapped up for the short walk up the hill, woollen jumper under woollen dress, tights, boots, big pink pashmina, warm coat. Yup, that's winter in Blighty folks! (This is a grey coat, the camera is playing tricks with the colour. And I'm not going to get a haircut until the weather warms up!))
We had a lovely time, lots of chat, good food.
I had fish stew.
Himself had presents.                       
A long, long skinny scarf from me with fox terriers decorating each end to remind us of much missed Bella and Maisie. From our friends a fancy shirt and a card, staying with the dog theme, of one of Steve's paintings, 'Swimming Dog.'
Here is my outfit to share with Visible Monday.
Cowl neck wool jumper from Jaeger
wool dress from Hobbs
boots so old I can't remember where they are from!
I looked in my 2016 diary to calculate how much money I'd spent on clothing throughout the year. I'd started out last January with the intention of buying as little as possible and told myself that for any item I bought I would give away an existing piece. I'm pleased with the result. I spent a total of £138. Each item was a sale purchase and included a sun hat, suede flats, crops, a funnel neck jumper and a chambray dress. If something irresistible comes along this year then I shan't feel too guilty about buying it!