Thursday, 29 July 2010

messing about on the river

Ahhh, what to do with the summer holidays?

I try to make the most of our National Trust membership; you can usually find large outdoor areas for the children to run around in, a loo and a tea shop (if I haven't already organised a picnic) and sometimes the houses are even of interest to my young children.

Last week we visited Cliveden, once home to the Astor family and the famous Profumo affair, but this information is far too high brow for my brood. The hugely impressive Cliveden is also said to be the inspiration for Toad Hall which is much more my children's level and so it was we took our Wind in the Willows picnic.

We met friends and the children ran wild as we meandered down from the house to the river and the boat house. Here we set up base and lay our picnic watching the boats . Not one to miss a literary opportunity I had involved the children in making a picnic in a 'fat, wicker luncheon basket' just like Ratty gives Mole.

"There's cold chicken inside it ..... coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrolls

We didn't see any familiar river side friends, just plenty of wasps, but the children enjoyed it regardless.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Campari and Prosecco

I find we always come back from holiday having made a food or drink discovery. This time it was Campari. A jewel red bottle stood on the drinks tray and each evening while the children hosed the sand off their bodies we had an Italian aperitivo. I felt like something from the Great Gatsby. I don't know what campari is made of and I still can't work out if I actually like it, but I love it!

Then someone suggested we mixed our campari with Prosecco instead of soda and I highly recommend this. It's not overly strong in alcohol content, but once you're 2/3 of the way through you really could be something from the Great Gatsby!

It's back to reality now, I spent most of today, the first day of the childrens school holiday trudging around a muggy garden centre looking at pond plants. I just wonder if I sit outside with one of the mini bottles of campari soda we brought back in our suitcase, will I be transported?

Viva Italia

We had great plans of day trips to Florence, Sienna and wondering around the shady cobbled streets of Tuscan villages but after a whistle stop tour of Pisa directly after landing in Italy we realised the heat was far too intense to do anything. So happily we fell into the Italian way of life; long siestas, eating fresh food, and swimming in the sea.

It is amazing how good quality basics can account for the most wonderful time.We were staying on an exclusive (but not ostentatious) estate on the Tuscan Coast. The house was filled with antiques and we slept in a four poster bed with quality old linen sheets and lace trimmed pillow cases (the bedroom was probably the size of our entire house), so sleeping was great.

The Estate had a 3 km private beach, and the sea was fantastically warm and great for swimming. I flounced around the beach in my all-in-one-supermarket swimming costume, somewhat like Gloria from Madagascar, alongside bronzed, svelte, glamorous Italians, and I was happy. Until hubby announced that George Clooney has been known to holiday on the estate!

And the food. Well we never found a nice little village market to mooch around, but it didn't matter because the local supermarket sported incredible, fresh food. The children ate inordinate amounts of fruit, we consumed tomatoes (of all shapes and sizes) as if they were going out of fashion and the seafood was delectable.

Why did we come home?

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

new in print

my new faded roses design has been selected by the english home magazine as theier summer subscriber offer. the first 100 readers to subsctribe will receive a mini bag.
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Sunday, 18 July 2010

stitchery & weekend reading

a few weeks ago was my great friends birthday. Her husband asked me if i would custom colour one of my wallpapers to go with the paint in their bedroom. Well the custom colouring was a huge success and mr H and I hung the paper while our friends were in London so it would be a surprise on their return (it was a bit of a morcombe and wise or laurel and hardy affair as their ceilngs are nearly 3m tall and the paper is 130cm wide!!!)

anyway i wanted to make her a special present to go with her wallpaper , so i embroidered her a cherry blossom polka dot cushion to tone in , and was rather pleased with the whole effect. I have posted on machine embroidery before i know, but my degree was in embroidery (yes there was much eyebrow raising when i told people thats what i was studying). Despite moving into more commercial elements of design for a job, embroidery is something i always come back to when i have the luxury of time, or want to make something special.
To do free stitch embroidery just takes practise and time, you have to get used to moving the work and making the needle behave like a pencil. I have an ancient bernina machine which allows you to drop the teeth and put on an embroidery foot, but most machines will allow you to drop the teeth and even if you aren't able to find a foot to fit you can put your work in a hoop (i find the sprung ones made by madeira the best) and have a go.
Poppy Teffrey is a queen of machine embroidery and has written a gorgeous book on the subject you can buy it here, she also writes a blog here

what initially prompted me to think about recent forays into machine embroidery was an email from the lovely charlotte macey - who it turns out lives only a few miles away! but she is another free stitcher whose work i really like - she has a lovely sense of colour. You can read her blog here and buy her products here.
Anyway I am sorry this post is actually all upside down - i intended to start with charlotte and end will wallpaper but i loaded the photos in the wrong order and blogger won't oblige me by copying them back in, so its a topsy turvy world today!!
happy weekend.

Thursday, 15 July 2010


I am working on a lovely plain collection at the moment and I just can't stop photographing these linens. the colours are just divine, soft muted, chalky and utterly gorgeous. I can't pick a favourite.
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Monday, 5 July 2010

gardener's weekend

Hubby has recently been sighing that I no longer make him things, in the days before children Advent calenders were made for his benefit and I often made him little gifts. Now he's been relegated to the bottom of the pile so I figured that perhaps for his birthday I would make him something. It meant that I could use one of my collection of match boxes that I've been dying to make into something since my visit to the exhibition by the Brunel Broderers and

As it was I had already persuaded Granny to look after the 3 rascals so I could take hubby off to Oxfordshire for a weekend of looking at gardens (hubby is a gardener) and staying in a B&B for garden lovers so all I had to do was make something that related to this.

The match box became this little brown suitcase (like Paddington's) which contained a miniature book with clues and gardening 'bits', including a piece of music called 'In my Father's Garden'. Hubby was really pleased with his first handmade present in a while and we're both looking forward to our weekend away.

Talking of suitcases I must go and pack a much larger one. We're off to Italy for our Summer holiday so you wont be hearing from me for a while.


follow the doughnut trail...

It's become a bit of a tradition that Boy organises a picnic bike ride as our birthday presents. Last week was Daddy's birthday so we duly prepared the 'surprise' picnic. When Daddy returned from work he found a helium balloon attached to his bike seat and doughnut wrapped in brown paper with his instructions.

'Follow the doughnut trail...'

Along our lane we hung a supply of doughnuts from tree branches overhanging the road for daddy to find.

Eventually (in fact we were only minutes away) he reached us, our bikes, mine with his presents in the basket (a new e-bay purchase) and a supply of more of his favourite cakes, including a box of Cherry Bakewells as his birthday cake.

wild strawberry fairy cakes

Baby was invited to a teddy bear's picnic and we couldn't resist making some mini fairy cakes (I had to buy some petite fours cases following the truffle debacle!). We just made plain fairy cakes topped with a dollop of clotted cream and a wild strawberry. Unfortunately the birds had beaten us to the strawberries and we were left with a rather pathetic supply of tiny, virtually green strawberries, but we were able to collect enough to create the desired effect.

Perfect cakes for 2 year old girls and their teddies!