Nov 202014
 

novembertable

I am documenting the year with monthly photographs of my kitchen table. Capturing the jumble that accumulates here, at the heart of the kitchen, is also a way to record some of the domestic stories of our family life.

November feels like rather a hiatus, a pause. Autumn is edging towards winter and the anticipation of Christmas is, inevitably, creeping in to family life. November is the calm, the stillness, before the whirl of festivities begins in December.

My tea, this month, is in my current favourite, a hand-thrown replica of the mug from Dylan Thomas’s writing shed in Laugharne. With a toddler in tow, it’s rare that I manage to drink a whole, hot cup of tea. As a result, I tend to favour smaller mugs, and I am very particular as to which ones I use. I’ve been known to decant tea from one to another, should my husband inadvertently select a mug which is not in favour. This little beauty is just perfect, and I am sure that the tea tastes better as a result!

The rather gorgeous plant, sitting pretty on a charity shop saucer, was a gift from my friend Lou. It’s a Pilea Peperomioides, and was a cutting from Lou’s rather majestic Pilea, Merlin. My fingers have never been particularly green, so I’ve been lavishing it with care and attention in attempt to keep it alive and happy. Thankfully, my pampering has paid off, and it’s been producing some little offshoots of its own. I’ve been referring to the Observer Book of House Plants, and consulting its expertise on propagation. This lovely green volume is one of a pile of Observer guides which I am slowly accumulating from a junk shops, markets and bookshops.

The Dala horse, whose story I told earlier in the year, usually sits on the shelves above my desk. The littlest has unfortunately discovered that he can climb up on my chair and help himself to my treasures, and the horse is a particular favourite of his. It’s currently sporting a Liberty print necklace, which was part of the wonderful goodie bag from my day at Liberty. Also from that day, the pretty silver ricrac courtesy of The Home Makery, which is out in preparation for some festive sewing that I have planned for this weekend as part of the Styling the Seasons project. The cute scissors are from Merchant and Mills, a gift from my sister-in-law, who knows me well!

Finally, November is very much the season for knitting. The skein of yarn on September’s table, which was a work-in-progress on October’s table, has returned to November’s table, a completed cowl, soft and warm, to keep me snug through the winter. If you are a knitter, you’ll find the details over on Ravelry. I’ve already started my next project, a cowl for my husband, inspired by this ‘manly’ one, of which, more later. I’ve always found knitting to be soothing- the perfect activity for a quiet day in November.

Blue, green and orange : the November table.

The kitchen story so far:

{the January table}

{the February table}

{the March table}

{the April table}

{the May table}

{the June table}

{the July table}

{the August table}

{the September table}

{the October table}

Nov 112014
 

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All photographs in this post by Katharine Peachey.

When I was six years old, I was a flower girl at my Aunt’s wedding. I wore a dress that my Grandma had made for me. Silky-soft white cotton with a blue floral print and a wide, silver ribbon sash. That dress, which still hangs at the back of my wardrobe, was made from Liberty Tana Lawn. Twenty years later, on my own wedding day, my two smallest bridesmaids followed me down the aisle in handmade white dresses with a blue floral print, in that same, uniquely gorgeous, Liberty Tana Lawn.

Liberty London is an icon, and institution, and a shop like no other. I can clearly remember the first time that I stepped through its hallowed doors and made my way to the fabric department, gazing around me in hushed delight. A love of Liberty print has stayed with me ever since that little dress, and over the years I have collected and treasured small lengths of Tana Lawn, using it sparingly in my sewing, saving every last scrap.

Having been one of the bloggers invited to help Katy and Charlotte to launch their Styling the Seasons project (you can see my contributions to date over on Instagram, and in my Monthly Patchworks posts), I was thrilled to be on the guest list for their inaugural Crafting the Seasons event (not least because they sent out the coolest invitations ever!). The icing on the cake was that they hosted their craft afternoon at Liberty.

I was in absolute heaven. A cosy, wood-panelled room in the heart of Liberty, a fabulous spread of afternoon tea, a collection of lovely and talented bloggers, a selection of haberdashery prettiness courtesy of The Home Makery, and a table piled high with -oh, the bliss of it- Liberty Tana Lawn. Afternoons really don’t get better than that, or at least, not in my book.

I’ll be sharing my crafty handiwork as part of a festive Styling the Seasons blogpost next month, but in the meantime, these are some photographs of the day, taken by talented photographer Katharine Peachey. An absolutely huge thank you to Katy and Charlotte, and to Hannah and Anna at Liberty. It was an utterly perfect afternoon, you truly made a dream come true (and I am still swooning over the goody bag). A big thank you too, to my all fellow bloggers, who were fantastic company and a crafty inspiration to behold. Do go and visit their blogs and see how they have been styling the seasons…

Lou at Littlegreenshed/ Alexis at Something I Made/ Heather at Growing Spaces/ Tamsyn at The Villa on Mount Pleasant/ Jeska at Lobster and Swan/ Lisa at Betty and Walter/ Melanie at Geoffrey and Grace/ Amy at Daisy Fay/ Soumaya at Made by Molu/ Ruth at The Planned Adventure/ Hannah at  Hannah in the House/ Sarah-Lou at Lapin Blu/ Jo at The Only Place and, of course, Katy at Apartment Apothecary and Charlotte at Lotts and Lots

Nov 072014
 

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There are some places that seem to be infused with magic. Places that speak to you somehow. Places that, once you have visited them, may never leave you. The town of Laugharne, in Camarthenshire, Wales, is one such place. Famously home to the poet Dylan Thomas, and purportedly the inspiration for his wonderful play for voices, Under Milk Wood, Laugharne  is a misty, mystical spot, with its compelling literary connection and its castle on the edge of the sea.

As our car rounded the corner and pulled up by the waterside, I let out an involuntary, audible gasp at the loveliness of it all (to the amusement of my family!) We made our pilgrimage to the white Boathouse perched on the cliff edge, which was once Dylan Thomas’s home, but it was his writing shed that I truly fell for. Preserved just as if he had just stepped out for a moment, teacup on the desk, crumbled paper on the floor, this wooden-walled room, with its pools of light and sea views, is the stuff of writerly dreams.

Dylan Thomas used words like no-one else.  He conjoined them and juxtaposed them, tumbling them together in such a way that he conjured images and meanings that are startlingly unique and invariably beautiful.  My Dad introduced me to Under Milk Wood as a young teen, and I’ve loved it ever since. Having only ever studied his most well-known poems, such as the famous villanelle Do not go gentle into that good night, since my visitI have been delightedly discovering his poetic work.

In truth, I do not need to use my own words to describe Laugharne to you. Dylan Thomas did so himself, in this, Poem in October,  written on his thirtieth birthday.

 

Poem In October

It was my thirtieth year to heaven
Woke to my hearing from harbour and neighbour wood
And the mussel pooled and the heron
Priested shore
The morning beckon
With water praying and call of seagull and rook
And the knock of sailing boats on the net webbed wall
Myself to set foot
That second
In the still sleeping town and set forth.

My birthday began with the water-
Birds and the birds of the winged trees flying my name
Above the farms and the white horses
And I rose
In rainy autumn
And walked abroad in a shower of all my days.
High tide and the heron dived when I took the road
Over the border
And the gates
Of the town closed as the town awoke.

A springful of larks in a rolling
Cloud and the roadside bushes brimming with whistling
Blackbirds and the sun of October
Summery
On the hill’s shoulder,
Here were fond climates and sweet singers suddenly
Come in the morning where I wandered and listened
To the rain wringing
Wind blow cold
In the wood faraway under me.

Pale rain over the dwindling harbour
And over the sea wet church the size of a snail
With its horns through mist and the castle
Brown as owls
But all the gardens
Of spring and summer were blooming in the tall tales
Beyond the border and under the lark full cloud.
There could I marvel
My birthday
Away but the weather turned around.

It turned away from the blithe country
And down the other air and the blue altered sky
Streamed again a wonder of summer
With apples
Pears and red currants
And I saw in the turning so clearly a child’s
Forgotten mornings when he walked with his mother
Through the parables
Of sun light
And the legends of the green chapels

And the twice told fields of infancy
That his tears burned my cheeks and his heart moved in mine.
These were the woods the river and sea
Where a boy
In the listening
Summertime of the dead whispered the truth of his joy
To the trees and the stones and the fish in the tide.
And the mystery
Sang alive
Still in the water and singingbirds.

And there could I marvel my birthday
Away but the weather turned around. And the true
Joy of the long dead child sang burning
In the sun.
It was my thirtieth
Year to heaven stood there then in the summer noon
Though the town below lay leaved with October blood.
O may my heart’s truth
Still be sung
On this high hill in a year’s turning.

— Dylan Thomas

 November 7, 2014  out & about Tagged with: ,  11 Responses »
Nov 062014
 

besidemybed

This post is in association with Argos.

My target this year has been to read a book a month, a target which- to my delight- I’ve been not just meeting, but exceeding. I’ve found that the more I read, the more I want to read, and I love the fact that piles of reading material are scattered throughout the house. I’ve always thought that the reading matter which you keep on your bedside table proves to be particularly revealing, and so, with this in mind, I’m sharing with you today, the books beside my bed.

As it happens, I don’t actually have a bedside table. We have a matching pair of old bentwood chairs that stand either side of the bed, serving the same purpose. Here is the stack which sits on mine today. Working from top to bottom of the pile, I’m currently reading Lena Dunham’s Not that Kind of Girl on Kindle. Having up until now been something of a luddite when it came to e-readers, I have recently had the opportunity to try out a Kindle for the first time. I’ve been using a Paperwhite- you can see the model over at Argos. It’s been a bit of a revelation, not least because I can use it to read IN THE DARK, which is pretty much like being a child again, and reading with a torch under the covers (which I absolutely did used to do, I was a total bookworm and was always desperate to get to the end of the book!). It’s very handy when the baby is asleep in our room, as I can finally read without disturbing him. I also love having instant access to almost any book I choose. From what I’ve read so far, Not That Kind of Girl is funny, but also brutally, even toe-curlingly honest, a sort of reflective autobiography in the form of essays.

Next on the pile is – of course – my November read, Flannery O’Connor’s short stories. I’ve spoken about the reasons for my choice here in my November post. I do find that, in my generally sleep-deprived state, short stories make for perfect bedtime reading. Moving down the pile, Pretty Honest, by Guardian beauty columnist Sali Hughes, has changed the way that I think about my face. When it came to make-up, I was always fairly clueless, and as a result often wore little, other than in my purple lipstick and stars-glued-to-my-cheekbones student days. I’ve long been a fan of Sali’s columns, and have bought many a product based on her recommendation. She not only de-mystifies skincare, she takes joy from it, and as result, Pretty Honest is more than a handy reference guide, it’s a transformative tome.

In Clover is my new favourite magazine. It’s a truly beautiful publication with a focus on slow living, offline pursuits and a passion for print. You can also peek into the lovely world of In Clover over on Instagram. It was a recommendation from Lou, as too was my final bedside book, the scrumptious and uber-healthy cookbook from Anna Jones, A Modern Way to Eat. I’ve yet to find a recipe in this book that doesn’t burst with flavour and, like all the best cookbooks, it makes for a soothing bedtime read.

I don’t think it that a Kindle could ever replace for me the pleasure of holding a new book in my hands and turning the crisp pages, but it’s a sleek and lovely piece of kit, and a welcome addition to my library. There are a number of different models available from Argos. Luckily, my husband already has one of his own to grace the bentwood chair on his side of the bed, whilst on my side, it perches atop an ever-growing stack of this year’s books.

What are the books beside your bed?

 November 6, 2014  Uncategorized Tagged with: ,  4 Responses »