Wednesday, 30 December 2009

The Wedding: Your Questions Answered

Did you enjoy your wedding? I know that might sound strange but I know you put so much beautiful home made effort into your day and I often forget to enjoy things I've organised myself. So I know it was a really wonderful occasion for both of you - we can see it in your beaming photos - but did you manage to put yourself in the moment and really have fun and if so how and when?
Yes. I really did genuinely enjoy the day. Afterwards I know this because at no time did I think about the time or think about anything other than what I was doing. Aside from crippling period pains after the church service I also did not have any stomach related anxieties (which I often get at events) and I also managed to eat a plate of food without even thinking about it, which is *unheard* of for me at events when I am anxious or nervous.
I had so much fun all day, from getting ready with my family to marrying my Husband and then partying with my friends and family in the evening. I loved dancing with my bridesmaids and with my Husband and also with my Dad. I enjoyed gossiping with some of my school friends in the loos and the man who lived on the estate that had just returned from a sailing trip who we invited to join the party (who then kissed on my girlfriends). Those were the un-photographed moments which no-one ever mentions but really make the party.
Where did you get your dress and did you have a cake-cake or just a cheese-cake?

My dress came from Oxfam Bridal in Southampton which I then had re-tailored in a couple of places to fit me better. My lace shrug came from Monsoon Bridal and the sash was a silk ribbon custom dyed by Cam Creations to match my shoes (which were Rupert Sanderson). The silk scarf I am wearing in some of the photos was given to me by my Mother-in-Law and is the tartan of my new family name. I also wore a white and blue garter handmade by my sister and pearl earrings that were loaned to me by my Mother-in-Law.
Cam Creations also dyed silk ribbon the same colour which I used to tie the the bouquets and name labels to linen napkins.
The cake we cut was our cheese cake which had four local cheeses: Godminster Cheddar, Wild Garlic Cornish Yarg, Cornish Blue and St Edellion Cornish Brie. In addition to the cheese each of our mother's made a traditional fruit wedding cake with marzipan and white royal icing.
Wedding cake
Cake of local cheese

Is there anything you would have done differently? Do you think about that?
Every so often, yes. I would have asked the photographer to not take our portraits from 2 steps beneath us and wish she had suggested posing outside the church door instead. I wish I had asked her to take more details shots. I would have liked a photograph with Husband and his brother, and Husband and his friends. (But he isn't bothered, as he isn't bothered about photographs much anyway).
I would also have liked to have finished getting ready with my Mum and bridesmaids, rather than putting my dress on by myself and realising that the bridesmaids and Mum had already left in their car. But I did enjoy the extra time with my Dad. We had a quick last cup of coffee (which I narrowly missed spilling down the front of my dress when I walked into a low beamed doorway whilst holding the cup). We also forgot to drink the champagne...
I wish Husband had not had to do so much running around in the morning (but we did choose to do everything ourselves, so it was unavoidable).
I wish nature hadn't given me a period which arrived on the way to the church. I wish the friend who said he would video the ceremony had turned up on time so that we would have had a recording of the ceremony. (Neither of these were in my control though, so I couldn't have organised things any differently).
I also would have liked the vicar to have called my Godfather by the correct name, for the organist not to have started a hymn which was supposed to be played by my Godfather on the piano (despite us having rehearsed it the day before) and for him to have gone back on his promise for a 5 minute sermon and actually taking 25. But again, out of my control.
All in all though the things I would have done differently were minor. And of no real consequence: It was still a fabulous day. As for the place, the event, the decoration, the guests and so on, I wouldn't have changed any of it. Why do you keep banging on about your wedding?
A myriad reasons really, mainly that it's my blog and as such I write about my life. Though, as this post is pretty much the last you will hear about the wedding itself, you will be no doubt pleased to hear that I won't be "banging on" about it for much longer.
Did you have breakfast? And were the speeches good? (I always like them best!)
On the morning of the wedding I woke at 6am feeling like utter crap. Like I had flu: hot sweats, cold sweats and aching. {of course, this turned out to my period coming, but as I wasn't expecting it I didn't put two and two together until much later...}. So I had coffee and croissants and nurofen and paracetemol for breakfast, in bed with both my sisters. I would post the photo but I rather think my whole family would prefer that their nightclothed selves were kept well away from the internets. I had a few more cups of coffee later in the morning and some light lunch (soup and sandwiches cut into small bites by my Granny).
getting ready
The speeches were excellent. We opted to stick with the traditional three: my father, the groom and the best man, with Husband's father making a short fourth toast to absent friends. Husband didn't write his but spoke off the cuff, bringing down the place in gales of laughter, swearing twice and telling everyone how much they had touched us. My father spoke movingly of me flying the nest and about my childhood & Ben, Husband's best man, spoke eloquently of some of the misdeamours he and Husband had got up to over the years and about Husband and my relationship and future.
Favorite photos, details, and feelings are always good!
I still can't decide on a favourite photo. I like all of them, for different reasons.
13.06.09 (379)

Details wise, by some sort of fluke, the bunting I had made until I decided to stop fitted *exactly* round the dance floor. I was also very pleased how the mismatched crockery and peacock feathers worked to decorate the tables. I also like the way our top table was not really a top table and the reception line worked so that we were the last to eat rather than our guests waiting for us as if we were somehow more important than them.
wedding graduate post 2
I also liked that the whole reception felt like a house party and everyone seemed entirely comfortable helping themselves to drinks and food and then dancing and talking all evening. In every single photo everyone is smiling and everyone told me what a good time they had. For me, that is the mark of a good party and the only thing we strived for when planning the reception.
As for the ceremony, the moment when Dad and I reached the altar and Husband and I looked at each other for the first time summed up the whole reason why were marrying each other. It seemed so surreal saying those words to each other and knowing that we were becoming man and wife. I will remember forever saying those vows and giving each the rings and the way that I had to ask the vicar to repeat one of the lines because I became overcome with emotion. And then turning round during the last hymn, which was Jerusalem, and singing arm in arm, looking at all our friends and family, all singing, and catching people's eyes and having to blink back tears.
What did you learn about yourself through the planning process?
Cliched though it may sound, I was very reassured to find that together Husband and I make a good team. About myself specifically, I learnt (or perhaps, already knew) that I am somewhat of a control freak: I like things done properly and if delegated to someone else, I like them done to the standard I would have done it myself. (I have this problem at work too sometimes when my secretary hole punches things unevenly for example).

The wedding planning also reinforced a lot of things I already knew about myself: that I prefer homemade to bought a lot of the time, that friends and family being involved in my/our life is extremely important to me, that I like to host parties, that I prefer local and seasonal food, that I *love* a bargain and if I can save money making or doing something myself then I will.

I have also learnt how to work side by side with my Mum and not resorting to shouting at each other and that being married makes me very happy. That problems that seemed insurmountable on my own are conquerable with my Husband.

And, reassuringly, we both like to throw parties in the same way: good food, good friends, music and lots of champagne.

{Photos by K T Thompson & family}

Thursday, 24 December 2009

A very merry Christmas


The ballet yesterday was wonderful: Clara and her Nutcracker Prince, danced beautifully but it was really the Sugar Plum Fairy who swept me away. I danced for over 15 years and still her duet with her Prince, her line of fouett├ęs and jetes made me gasp. I also loved the battle between the mice and the toy soldiers, particularly when the mice started fighting with their tails. Our seats were right up in the rafters but the view was spectacular. The last time I was in the Royal Opera House we had a box, which in it's own way was gorgeous, but I was so carried away in the spirit of the Nutcracker that I barely noticed how high we were.

And after the ballet we had lunch in Covent Garden before I finished my Christmas shopping in the market. Shopping in Covent Garden is not something that I do very often, so it seemed rather poignant that in celebration of our last Christmas in London* I spent the eve of Christmas Eve engaged in two of the most London-ish Christmas celebrations I could think of.

Last night Husband and I made two curries to take home to my parents this afternoon for supper with my family. We are spending Christmas Day and Boxing Day with them and then progress to Shropshire for the remainder of the holidays with his family. The presents are all wrapped, the chutneys are bottled and labeled, biscuits have been made and stashed in tins for presents, and in boxes for consumption with coffee and mulled wine tonight and tomorrow. The car should be packed (but isn't, because I am writing) and we are almost ready to depart.

And so, it is with the happiest of hearts that I wish you Happy Christmas, one and all, if you celebrate. And if you don't, then the warmest winter greetings.



{Image of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, by me}

*Somerset is to become our new home in the new year.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Christmas is coming

Snow in Islington

"Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat..."
Apparently. Here in London we have rather less geese but, surprisingly, rather more snow. Thankfully I have been at home this week getting on with exciting tasks such as de-cluttering and listing things on freecycle but I hope to turn my hand to more Christmas like projects tomorrow and Thursday.

Last night Husband & I made our annual edible presents: this year we made apricot and cranberry chutney. Last year it was chilli jam. We braved the snowy conditions and drove to our nearest Waitrose. Which should have taken about 5-10 minutes but ended up taking about 3 times as long. Still, we got our ingredients and then by 11pm we had 15 jars of beautiful pinky-orange chutney ready for tags and handing out.

Tomorrow my friend Liz is taking me to the ballet to see the Nutcracker at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden. I am beyond excited, I love the ballet and what could be more festive than the Nutcracker. It also has had excellent reviews. And then home afterwards to wrap presents, make mince pies and gingerbread biscuits and drink port.

The wedding post is coming, promise, it is almost finished...

{Image by me, of my view from the kitchen window yesterday afternoon}

Thursday, 17 December 2009

My Christmas Newsletter to you all

Darlings, if I could work out to get the whole thing on the screen at once I would post it here. But I am crap with technology so I am afraid you will have to click HERE to read my letter to you all...

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Oh Christmas Tree, oh christmas tree

I said last week that times they are a-changing & I promise I will share my news soon. And when I do, you will see why posts have been few and far between recently. In the meantime here are some really bad snaps of the tree, nay bush, that the Christmas tree fairy left for us. The news that I will share very soon meant that Husband and I had agreed no tree. But on Sunday it was our sixth month wed-iversary (can it really be that long since we said the big 'I-Do') & Husband rescued the most darling bedraggled odd shaped tree/bush hybrid that no-one else wanted. I guess he knew just how much having a tree meant to me, so he found a way to make it work. (I believe he told the tree selling man he wanted a tree as a joke present for someone and did they have any unwanted trees which he could buy on the cheap. Seriously, he paid about £9 for this one, which for London is very, very cheap). Now *that* is what being married is about.

Vintage round bauble

Vintage gold bauble (found in a charity shop in Manchester for 10p)

Vintage Bird Decoration

(Copper vintage bird decoration from Shikasuki)

Christmas Tree

And the tree, in all it's beauty and strange-shaped-gorgeousness in our *extremely* cluttered/messy sitting room. With candy canes. Love me some candy canes.

A long time ago a friend from America told my sisters and me that he would bring us anything from America for Christmas. Anything. We chose candy canes...

Back soon with the answers to the wedding questions. I am working on them, I promise!

Sunday, 13 December 2009


Kentish Sunset

kent in december

The sun setting near Leigh, Kent. Saturday December 12 2009, 3.40pm.

{Images by me}

Monday, 7 December 2009


Darlings, I am still here. I promise. Although things are a changing. More soon & the answers to the wedding questions too...

Photo by Alex and poladroided by me. Posted here just because I like it.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Sequins for the winter party season

A few of my favourite sequined pieces from Shikasuki to cheer up a rainy Sunday afternoon...

All images by Shikasuki
Prices start at £45 for tops & £85 for dresses

Thursday, 26 November 2009

The wedding: any questions?


I know that I never finished my wedding recaps. Somewhere between returning from the honeymoon and trying to find a job I started to find it hard to write about the wedding. That chapter of my life seemed to have been closed when we returned from the honeymoon.

But now, almost 6 months on, I've started to think about the wedding again. I have printed a wedding photograph and put it in a photo frame. I have started to think about compiling an album from the day & another from the honeymoon.

So I thought I'd turn to you, readers longtime and readers new. What would you like to know about the wedding, the planning or the honeymoon? I will answer all questions (within reason!), so post your requests in the comments and later on in the week I will post the answers.

{Image by KT Photos}

Happy Thanksgiving

Leaves, originally uploaded by richarddigitalphotos.

22 and 21 years ago today I had the privilge of celebrating Thanksgiving with families who opened the doors of their houses and welcomed an English family through them. At not even 8 years old I wasn't fully aware of how special that was or how much those simple acts of kindness would shape my future life.

20 years later I look back at the welcome we had in California with extreme fondness. Particularly on my Mother's behalf. It is only recently that I have begun to realise what she went through for our family, for her husband. It cannot have been easy relocating a 6 year old, a 3 year old and a baby half way round the world for my Dad's job, but she did. She would be the first to admit that she gained an awful lot from the experience too, but the catalyst for the trip was to further my Dad's career.

20 years later I remember the kindness that people showed towards my family: the invitations, the blueberry muffins that appeared on our first morning in that strange rented house. And I have always sought to make our flat the place where friends, existing and new, are always welcome & to welcome new friends into my life. (which is perhaps in part why I love blogging so much & why I am always keen to meet my blogging pals in 'real life').

And so, 20 years later, Thanksgiving is still special to me. I don't celebrate it with my family (although it would be wonderful to see them) but we often have a dinner with friends. As we have been invited to a Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday Husband & I are having a dinner tonight together. It may be a freebie courtesy of his work but for me it is our first married Thanksgiving celebration and I will be telling him how thankful I am that we are married and a family.

Other things that I am thankful for, aside from family, health and home, include the fact that opportunites are arising jobwise again, that I finally demonstrated willpower by NOT purchasing a heavily heavily reduced beautiful bronze leather Mulberry wallet at a sample sale & that I have learnt to be able to say no when I need to.

Small things, but big lessons.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Give Away Winner!

My sincere apologies for the delay in announcing this. This week has been manic. So, without further ado, the winner of the Dorma cushion is...

Congratulations Laura!

Please can you e-mail me with your contact details & address and I will post the cushion to you.

Thank you all for entering.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Fudge By Post

Last week I received a very tasty parcel through my letterbox. A beautiful box of homemade Scilly fudge complete with stunning artwork by Cornish artist Tom Holland.

Veronica Farm Fudge is made by Issy's mother at their home in Bryher which is one of the islands which make up the Isles of Scilly. Issy is the author of the blog Cupcakes & Cornwall where she chronicles a mixture of recipes, food and cornish related things. And it was through a giveaway that she hosted that I received a pick me up parcel last week.

Veronica Farm Fudge is everything that you could hope for in fudge: rich, creamy, sweet but not sickly. In my head the Isles of Scilly are bathed in sunshine and I swore I could taste it as I ate my fudge on a cold rainy November morning in London.

And best still, the fudge is available by post, payable online. A few simple clicks and it can be winging it's sunny way to you or someone of your choosing.

Friday, 20 November 2009

To the seaside

One cold November morning a girl said goodbye to her Husband and ventured forth for a day by the seaside. It took her several hours to get there and involved a complicated route of two tubes, one train, a coach load of OAPs making a racket and a small bus.

Somerset 4

She read a newspaper, and the Economist, on the train, wondering what had happened to the world when 20 something girls found 80 something old ladies irritating, with their mints and their laughter and their day trip anoraks. But when she got on the bus, she found her nose pressed to the window.

Somerset 2

The fields, the light, the colours of the leaves on the trees, they were all so beautiful. Beautiful in a soothing of the soul, calming way, that London just did not have. The sun even shone, as they wound their way round the country villages, lanes and fields.

Somerset 3

When she finally arrived at her destination, and the reason for her visit was over*, she headed straight for the sea. Realising she was becoming more like her dear old Dad than ever, she ignored the cold and the fact that she could barely stand up in the strongest gusts and started to walk in the twilight along the sea front, pausing by the sea wall to watch dogs being walked along the sand.

Somerset 1

In the gathering dusk she walked along the beach, right to the darling little harbour at the far end, where fishing boast sat on their keels in the sand, protected from the wind by the protective arms of the harbour wall, and where tiny whitewashed fishing cottages hugged the cliff, their windows shining light like beacons into the deepening twilight.

She stood for a long time by the lifeboat station watching the white horses coursing in the channel and the lights appearing on the channel markers, their reassuring red and green twinkles providing assistance to any one who might be out there. And somewhere, over the sea, for it really was only a channel, she could see more lights. And she thought she could see, in the distant distance, the light that was her sister (until she remembered that her sister was, in fact, in Morocco).

And so, reluctantly, she turned and walked back to the town, where she paused to have some supper. And was seated at a table next to a group of women who ranged in age from mid twenties to mid fifties, who were all dressed in teal & brown. A local teachers meeting, it transpired. The french departments of all the local secondary schools, having tea and cakes, and from the sound of it, a good old moan. But pretty soon they had all left, because it was late. Only it wasn't really, it was only 5.30pm. And so she drank gingernut latte and realised that really there were very few *commodities* that you can't get in the countryside. Even Jimmy Choos can be ordered online.

All too soon it was time to get the bus, and the train and the two tubes. Back to London. Back to Husband. Back to real life.

*If it turns out it was worth the trip, I will share...

Peacock Feathers Give Away: Dorma cushion

**giveaway extended until Sunday. Please enter by 10pm GMT if you would like to win one of these beautiful cushions**

I don't write enough about great bedlinen. It is one of life's simplest pleasures: beautiful, fresh, ironed, lavender scented sheets, perfect for snuggling under on a cold winter weekend.

Since I don't have much money these days, I don't buy that much, but I was excited to see that Dorma, one of the nation's oldest bedlinen brands, was bought by Dunelm last year and has started producing linens again. They have been making sheets since 1921. I am pretty sure that the 'vintage' sheets my Granny gave me as a present a few years ago were Dorma, as is my duvet. In short, they make classic bedlinen & duvets very well.

Since relaunching they have expanded their range into home fragrances & cushions. I have the orange & cedarwood candle, which I think is rather nice. M, on the other hand, thinks it smells like lemonade.

And since I have never done a giveaway on the blog, I thought this would be a good opportunity. I asked Dorma & they have kindly given me a Belvoir Boudoir cushion (worth £30) to give to one of you (which you can see in the image above).

To enter is simple. Go to the Dorma website and look at the new range of bed linens. Then leave me a comment telling me which is your favourite (I am nosy, I admit it) and then next week I will use to select a winner. As it is light, I will even post overseas.

{Image by Dorma}

One entry per e-mail address only
Competition runs until 10pm GMT on Sunday 22 November 2009.
Winner will be chosen by & posted in a new post thereafter
Entries welcome from all readers

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

I wish I was...

yurting life

We didn't choose a far flung place for our honeymoon or use the occasion as a chance to visit foreign climes. We have the rest of our married life for that. After the three months prior to the wedding we needed fresh air, beautiful surrounding and time to be together. Simple living, dark skies, a fire to cook on, a space decorated with simple furniture and flowers plucked from the hedgerows.

We spent a week staying in a yurt on a farm in the countryside above Fowey in a field full of sheep, where all power & light came from the fire, solar powered batteries and a single ringed gas hob. We spent our days reading, painting, lying side by side on our backs on cushions in the field whilst listening to Wimbledon on a solar powered radio, eating nice fish and drinking some amazing wines. We went to the beach, to the Minack theatre, to small fishing pubs and horse riding. We talked of our dreams, our hopes, our fears. We sat and watched suns setting and revelled in being married. We planned our lives together and returned to London refreshed, tanned, freckled, together & married.

Now that the nights have really drawn in, the leaves have fallen & been taken away by the council in bags and I *still* don't have the job of my dreams, I look back on those two weeks when all cares were far away and thank Husband every day that we chose such a honeymoon.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

I wish I was...

, originally uploaded by lucie camp.

Whilst on a break from interview preparation today I got distracted by (a) using e-bay profits to purchase new sheepskin boots due to old ones finally breaking and (b) getting distracted by photographs which I find inspirational.

This one made me think of my sisters. One of whom now lives in London. The other lives (in my mind) on a cliff top in Wales. In reality I suspect she lives in a house. We shall find out in December when we go & visit. I cannot wait.

See, there are always more interesting things to be done than reminding oneself of one's weaknesses, one's future ambitions & situations when working in a team one overcame a significant hurdle.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Things I did this weekend...

.drank lots of very tolerable cava at the Jimmy Choo for H&M launch party on Friday night. and bought the shoes above. sleek, comfy & perfect to bring my vintage dresses up to date for the upcoming party season. {funded by selling one or two things on e-bay}

.ate burgers & drank beer in the American diner near Carnaby Street with Husband, my sister & her best friend. followed by vodka cocktails back at our flat.

.went out for breakfast. i love going out for breakfast but we don't do it very often. we walked there in the peeing rain and ate in a lovely Turkish cafe round the corner from our house.

.went to a dinner party. which was lots of fun.

.worked in the vintage shop & made new blogging friends talking to customers.

.made bread sauce to go with the pheasant Husband roasted for supper last night. which was yummy.

{Image by H&M, of course}

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Vintage Christmas Decorations

vintage decorations

As promised, a few photographs of some of my favourite vintage Christmas decorations from Shikasuki. All decorations are either American or Russian from the 1940s-1980s and in excellent condition considering their age. Some are slightly faded but this all adds to the charm.

I cannot wait to buy some for our tree and I am also considering a bowlful of them on the coffee table just like the middle images above. They look so sparkly and beautiful and festive altogether in a great pile.

In addition to the knitted & card angels (top left) there are a range of large feathered angel with a head like a doll (they are gorgeous and I will try and photograph them for another post soon}.

All decorations from Shikasuki
Prices from £3-£35

If you don't live in London and are interested please contact me for purchasing on your behalf. Otherwise please do come in and have a look {but give yourself a good time slot. You will get distracted by the sparkly dresses & accessories}. I am in the shop on Sundays, 12-7pm but the shop is also open Monday - Saturday 11am - 7pm.

Shikasuki: 67 Gloucester Avenue, London, Nw1 8LD. Website is coming soon...

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

{Image by unikot}

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place: and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
Though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

.John McCrae

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them

.Laurence Binyon

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

dresses for engagement & other parties

The winter party season is nearly upon us. This week in Shikasuki we have started selling vintage decorations* and all manner of sparkly, sequined dresses, tops and accessories. Each day I am there I find a new favourite. I love this time of year. Just being in the shop cheers me up.

In just 3 weeks time it will be December. I think our party season kicks off with a birthday dinner on the 1st and then a glamorous cocktail engagement party on the 3rd. In my dreams I will wear this Lanvin Fall 09/10 nude ruffled dress (but with black tights and different shoes) which I fell in love with months ago.

In reality I propose to wear a vintage velvet high necked shift dress with a silver beaded embellished bib which looks like a large necklace with peeped toe black high heeled sequined shoes. This year has not been kind to me financially so it will be vintage not Lanvin for all occasions I feel.

{Image by Lanvin via}

* Please contact me if you would like details of the vintage decorations which are absolutely beautiful. I will try and do another post on them soon. (or come to the shop & see for yourself).

Monday, 9 November 2009

A date in fragments of the past,

20 years ago today the Berlin wall came down. I was 7. We were living in California, celebrating my sister's birthday. I don't remember much about the occasion save I was aware that *it was important*. At 7 my interests did not yet include world history and teaching at my American junior school seemed more preoccupied with teaching cursive and math. Discussion with my fellow classmates at recess involved, occasionally, Vietnam but never Europe. Even when President Bush had been elected and had flown over the school, we had spelt out Bush in the playing fields but again, no real discussion about the event beyond that it had happened.

25 years ago today I ceased to be an only child when my beautiful little sister was born.

35 years ago today my parents met a college bonfire night party in a meadow in the city of dreaming spires. Years later as a small girl I was looking through photograph albums in the sitting room and found an album that Dad had put together of his time at university and found photographs of my mother at 19, faded brown and sepia.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo at Manchester Academy

Proper post coming soon once I have dragged myself out of the depths of more job applications.

Ps. Who sends job rejections on Sunday afternoon? Having a relaxing day after the gig in Manchester finishing The Deathly Hallows (for the 2nd time, the first since the day after it was released) when my BlackBerry flashed red to disturb my peaceful afternoon and remind me that even Sundays aren't sacred any more. The job rejection voice of doom must infiltrate all days and all thoughts, just to remind me that it is still there and lurking and that there is nowhere that I can hide from it's ability to turn a perfectly good day into crap with one e-mail.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Things I would like*

I am rather fond of this bag.
Were that I was funded enough to warrant extraneous purchases
or that it could fit a laptop therein so as to be justifiable
I might go and buy it.

*an ongoing list

Bag by Next

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

On being unemployed

Had an e-mail back from a job I applied for, one for which I am grossly over qualified, and from which I got rejected. {Incidentally, it was very kind of them to provide any kind of feedback, as usually feedback is only given to candidates who go for interview and only then if you are very lucky.}

He thanked me for applying, told me I had a strong CV, but given that there were over 700 applicants they had chosen someone whose CV precisely matched the job description.

700 applicants for one position.

Is it any wonder I've been struggling...

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

30 posts in 30 days

Not sure why I decided to have a go at this but considering I have managed 3 posts in 3 days already I shall attempt a further 27 more & then it will be Advent.

Nov 3: The boiler broke today. We had no hot water & no heating. We chased the plumber & the landlady & the boiler manufacturers. Someone is coming tomorrow. We shall see. (we managed to make it work enough to produce some hot water to wash in this evening. it still makes a nasty noise though). Did more job applications. Re-did CV. again. Made chocolate crispy cakes. and then ate them all with Husband watching TV after eating baked sea bass. drank nice Riesling. early night.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Halloween Decorations

halloween decorations

jack o lantern

So, turns out that if you live where we do (in one of the few converted houses amongst mainly large family homes) then putting up halloween decorations indicates that you are *open* for trick or treaters. Who knew?

Not that we minded. We gave away all those horrid Bounty bars from the celebrations box I bought half price the other week. Still, once we'd given all the Snickers away and then all of the Mars Bars, I drew the line. I wasn't expecting the backlash though. One charming child, on being informed that he was in fact too late for chocolate, as it had all gone (which it had. I gave away some & had eaten the few remaining milkyways & malteasers), shouted "We have come all this way. You had better give us something" in a very menacing manner, much to the horror of the parent who was accompanying them (he explained to me the child was a friend of his son's). As he walked back through our front garden he shouted to Husband, visible through the kitchen window, that he "would remember our house & return to mess it up". He couldn't have been more than 7 or 8. How sad.

I was also sad to see that for most parents, costume making seems to involve going to a shop and purchasing one. I have never worn anything other than a handmade creation and do not intend to start now, whether we have children or not. One Mum clearly couldn't even run to a sheet for a ghost outfit, e-mailing this to our freecycle group last week:

"My little boy has been invited to a fancy dress party this Saturday. Was wondering if anyone had a boys fancy dress outfit that their child no longer needs. At present not to fussed what costume it is."

I don't know what the response rate was like but I should have responded that I had plenty of empty loo rolls in the recycling and lots of bubble wrap and that perhaps she & her son could create a monster outfit out of them. We always used to make our own fancy dress outfits for various school things and I can still clearly remember the feeling of immense satisfaction on creating myself a lantern out of black card in which I could carry a candle when dressing up as the original Guy Fawkes.

Satisfaction which almost rivalled that of the feeling I had last night after successfully retrieving Husband's phone which I had managed to flip down the back of the radiator in our bedroom. Having presumed that it would just fall out the bottom I was surprised to find that the skirting board makes a secure seal at the bottom meaning that the only way to get it out was the way it fell in. 45 minutes later and both of us suffering from neck-ache from peering down the very small gap, I had rigged up a greaseproof paper contraption and we managed to get the phone back using a bamboo cane. The phone was extremely dusty (which goes someway to explaining why our flat is always so dusty - it literally is collecting in great lumps back there with no way to remove it) but working.

And it is bonfire night this week. We are having a party with pumpkin whoopie pies, mulled wine, sparklers & s'mores (courtesy of our American guests) whilst we show them what a proper English autumn celebration is like. We may even have a 'bonfire' & apple bobbing...

(Post to come later in the week explaining why we celebrate this event, in case readers are unaware...)

Sunday, 1 November 2009


Halloween costume

Further proof that phone snaps are not very good quality & that, no matter what I do to it, my hair will not keep a curl. Am trying hard to edit the original photo with my limited (free) software. As it was a poor image to start with this is about the best I could manage.

People had made such effort with costumes for Count Dracula & His Bride-to-Be Amy that it was hard to tell who was who and which people I already knew. Such was the amount of fake blood swilling round the party someone really could have bled to death without anyone realising. Witches, vampires, pirates, cats, masked men, a pair of bacon & eggs and 'Derren Brown' all vied for space in a spider filled back garden & the devil and a dictator were found talking and smoking outside the front door -with the party was still in full swing - when Husband walked me home at 2.30am (I was 'working' in the shop in the morning).

Dress: Vintage 1980s velvet & DeVore ruffled prom dress from Shikasuki
Look: Inspired by Heathers
Image: Taken by Husband

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Happy Halloween

Tonight Husband & I are going to a Halloween engagement party. We have used two films as inspiration for our characters. And quite co-incidentally, the actors we are going as dated at one point. I will try & take some photos of us dressed up before we go out. I have been making Husband a cut-throat razor out of a wine box and working out how I can try and coax my long straight hair into an 80s poodle perm (I am blonde so I will have to be an amalgamation of the Heathers).

{Photos are the respective film posters
which I cannot remember where they were found...}

Friday, 30 October 2009

Peacock Feathers Find: Grannies, Inc

I came across this website last week & loved the idea of a team of Grannies knitting beanies for people who want handmade beanies but don't know how to knit. You can choose from either a pre-designed hat or you can pick and choose your own shape, style & colours. You submit, pay & one of their Grannies knits your hat for you.

{Image from Grannies Inc}

Monday, 26 October 2009

Hampstead Heath

autumnal sun

Sometimes, just sometimes, a girl has to take the afternoon off and follow the autumnal sunlight to the most open space she knows. For the view. For the light. For the peace and quiet. Just sometimes, that day is Monday. And for this girl, that day was today.

The highest, lightest, open place I know (in London) is Hampstead Heath. So, in the company of a teaching friend who is on half-term this week, we went walking this afternoon. We walked in the orangey light of the late afternoon, across the grassy field full of people walking dogs, past the swimming lakes and up onto Parliament Hill. We walked side by side but in near silence, drinking in the light and the silence, broken only by the occasional chatter of tiny children and the barking of all the dogs being walked. We stood for a while looking over London and watching the sun creep lower in the sky before turning and returning to the village, the tube, home and, in my case, supper with Husband whilst watching the two final Masterchef programmes which aired whilst Husband was away.


{All images by me}

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The Tower of London

Out of the gloom by the outer gate comes a pale, flickering light accompanied by the faintest jangling. A Yeoman Warder in his red jacket appears & disappears under a gate heading towards the White Tower, appearing again accompanied by 4 footmen. Together they march back to the furthest gate and begin the centuries old ritual of locking the Tower for the night. Doors locked, they march in formation back towards the Inner Ward down Water Lane, their footsteps echoing in the quiet night.

Suddenly the peace is broken by a shout: "holt" demands the Sentry posted by Traitor's Gate. "Who approaches?".

"Keys" comes the response? "Whose keys?" he demands. "Queen Elizabeth's keys" they reply.

And so they are allowed to pass towards the White Tower where the ceremony ends with a lone trumpeter playing the Last Post.


On Friday I went with the W.I to the Tower of London to witness the Ceremony of the Keys which is the ceremonial locking of the Tower which has happened daily since the 1200s and for a night tour of the Tower. It is a fascinating place built and evolved by many Kings of England and has housed some very famous prisoners (and executions). Two of Henry VIII's wives are buried in the church. Guy Fawkes was tortured at the Tower after being discovered at the Houses of Parliament. Even as late as the middle of last century the Kray Twins were held at the Tower for failing to report for national service.

It is also a beautiful reminder of old-fashioned London. I had never thought to visit but if you get the chance, I highly recommend it.

Saturday, 24 October 2009


My Wedding Graduate post is up on A Practical Wedding. Just wanted to say hello if you are dropping in from Meg's blog.

Friday, 23 October 2009

On freedom of speech & freedom of expression

I managed to get home in time to watch the last 50 minutes of Question Time on the BBC last night. It was an interesting programme to have watched, albeit in a slightly different format to usual. Admittedly I do not watch every episode of the programme but I have watched it enough times to know that usually a set of current affairs questions are asked to a panel by an audience.

As this is in the public domain and just in case it isn't abudantly clear from what I say, I will lay out my stance: I am not a supporter of the BNP. I am however a supporter of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. That is not to say I will always agree with what an individual has to say, nor that I won't draw inferences from what people say about themselves but I do think it is important that we have the right to freedom of speech and of expression.

I think the BBC were right to invite Nick Griffin, as leader of the BNP, onto a current affairs programme which gives other political parties a platform to speak. The BBC is not party affiliated and must be seen to be neutral. The BNP have achieved 2 seats in the European Parliament and were democratically elected to that position. What I do think the BBC should have done however was run Question Time in the usual fashion, i.e. the questions should have focused more heavily on this week's issues. I was expecting to hear discussion of the Royal Mail strikes, for example. Instead, the panellists and the audience, in my opinion, did themselves a disservice. They asked questions specifically about the BNP, attacked Nick Griffin personally and repeatedly, when what they should have been doing, in my opinion, was letting him dig his own hole. His views and his party's views are unpleasant, which is putting it mildly, but letting him come across as a victim, which he did, was in my view a mistake.

Of all the other panellists it was Bonnie Greer who impressed me the most. She was articulate when other panellists seemed unable to answer questions. I know she is not connected to a party, so she only had to represent her own views but it was clear to all that Great Britain needs more speakers like her, and less like Mr Griffin. The worrying thing is that the BNP seem to offer an alternative vote in towns and cities where anger at the mainstream political parties is rife and where education is less than satisfactory. We need to take note: I am able to watch Mr Griffin's statements and hear what is behind them, what he is covering up and know that he does not offer a viable solution, no matter what he says. But to some he will sound like his party offers them solutions which the other mainstream parties do not. Surveys have shown that people who are not racist are voting for the BNP. Parties do not get elected to the European Parliament when only a few fundamentalists vote for them. The BBC has drawn all eyes to the policies of the BNP: what is needed now is a realistic solution to win those votes back again.

Question Time did briefly touch on another issue that was topical this week, both in that it was current and because it also reflects on the very reason that Mr Griffin was invited by the BBC. The question was related to the Jan Moir article in the Daily Mail which reflected on the death of Boyzone member Stephen Gately and drew the conclusion that because Mr Gately died and because he was also gay, the fact he was gay must have caused or contributed to his death. It was a hugely distasteful, homophobic article and prompted thousands of complaints to the PCC. I disagreed with everything that Ms Moir wrote but I have to conclude that if we wish to live in a democratic society where freedom of speech is so fundamentally important, we have to allow people like Ms Moir the right to publish articles such as the one she did. We can say that she is wrong in her views but I would rather live in a society where newspapers and television channels are not restricted by the government.

It was this type of question in which Mr Griffin did himself disservice: in answering it he also came across as homophobic and ill informed. He did his party no credit by his response. Yet there was no personal attack on him so he did not sound the victim either. If only the other questions put to the panel last night had been in similar neutral terms. In answering this question the other panellists also demonstrated why the BBC was right to have invited Mr Griffin onto the programme in the first place: our country is a democratic one which prides itself on freedom of speech and each person's ability to draw from that their own conclusions. One hopes that everyone reading Ms Moir's article would have seen it for the homophobic rant that it was and that everyone watching Mr Griffin's stint as a Question Time panellist would have seen what he truly represented. But if they didn't, that is their choice. And one which we are entitled to have.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

On being married part II

I wrote before about being married but re-reading it, I'm not sure I agree with my July self any longer. On paper, not much has changed since then. I am still jobless although I have taken on some unpaid freelance work in PR which I am enjoying. I am still at home more than Husband. I am still, technically, a housewife, in that Husband works and I do not. Yet I do not feel that I am one, or need to be one. It is also (I hope, I pray) a temporary role.

Meg wrote the other day about reclaiming the word 'wife'. I think there is a lot of merit in stating that wife does not have to be defined in a Bree Van Der Kamp pre-catering-business type way. As you will no doubt have realised by now, my viewpoint usually leans towards the traditional but not, surprisingly, on the subject of the word 'wife'.

In our marriage, Husband and I are a partnership, a team, a family. Neither of us is in charge. We make decisions about our future together, jointly. Sometimes one person's agenda is more important (like when I had a job offer out of London) and sometimes the other person's needs take precedence. We share our household chores equally to our strengths: Husband loves to cook, I love to bake. We both sit down on a Monday night and order our vegetables and meat from Able & Cole, we purchase our own lunches and as he cooks (and earns the money at the moment, he purchases other food items on the way home from work. I purchase cleaning materials & toiletries, because I care which ones we use and he has little preference). Husband would rather wash up and I would rather do laundry. We have floor boards so we have yet to have the hoovering discussion but I suspect we would take turns. We both do tidying and emptying bins and cleaning generally as and when it needs doing. He encourages me to be nicer, I encourage him to come home a bit earlier from a night out. We support each other, look after each other when we are ill & try and get the other person to have the first shower in the morning so we can steal 5 more minutes in bed.

Home is where my Husband is. Home isn't my parents house any longer. I like that. I love being his wife, perhaps because it makes me smile every time he says it. I love that we have said to each other, in front of everyone else, that we are each others forever. I love that he is proud of that commitment, the fact that he is not single any longer and likes to proclaim it to friends, colleagues and clients. I also love the fact that when we were away on our honeymoon, his out of office e-mail told everyone that he was on our honeymoon, rather than just on annual leave.

I am his wife. He is my husband. But we are also so much more than that. We are a family.

But, pretty much all of this applied even before we got married. We were a family long before we got married, even if not officially, legally. We waited until we got married to open a joint bank account but since living together our finances have been intertwined. Generally, the person with the money spent it. Our habits, our sharing, our supporting were present long before any thoughts of marriage. Perhaps that was how we knew we would have a good marriage: that we had the basis without any formal commitment in the forms of rings or signatures. Which is why I am not traditional about the word 'wife': because wife to me simply says Rachel in the context of married Rachel and M. Nothing more.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Coffee and cupcake

I broke with tradition: on Saturday I went to the Hummingbird Bakery in South Kensington. I was supposed to be meeting a friend at the V&A but her bus got stuck in a traffic jam. And what's a girl to do, especially when she's wearing high heels, it's cold outside & friend is going to be a good 20 -30 minutes.

At £1.55 this chocolate and vanilla cupcake was 25p cheaper than my usual cupcake at the Primrose Bakery. Slightly smaller, slightly different, slightly easier to eat with a fork. The seat was comfier too & the coffee was better. Although, the Primrose Bakery still has the distinct advantage that it is next door to the vintage shop where I assist on Sundays.

So good was my coffee & cupcake combo that when my friend arrived she immediately got herself one too. Although she chose Red Velvet {we debated whether it was just cake with food colouring in, us unenlightened English, we had no idea - can anyone help?}.

{Image by me, on my blackberry, in the Hummingbird Bakery}

Monday, 19 October 2009

Baby it's cold outside

It's a chilly night tonight. Autumn is well and truly here. The weekend was full of sunshine and fallen leaves (despite spending most of it in either Selfridges or the vintage shop). Today I left for meetings under chilly and grey skies. I write this wrapped up in tights, jogging bottoms, ugg boots, t-shirt, polo neck jumper, cardigan and hot water bottle. We had to turn the heating on too, as the flat started to smell of wet and mouldy washing.

I keep dreaming of babies: my own and other peoples. We are definitely not having one at the moment and as far as I know, neither are the friends who are pregnant in my dreams. I keep going back to the same house as well, which in my dreams is my childhood holiday home. Which is odd, as the only holiday home we had was a tent, albeit pitched on the same piece of wild clifftop, year in, year out for 15 or so years.

{If we were having a baby though, I would have to get these slippers for it. They are so very sweet that I checked to see if they had them in my size (they didn't). I came across them when searching for a birthday present for my sister. As she is neither newborn nor having a newborn, they won't fit the bill, sadly... And I can't post here what I did buy, as every so often she reads this. Once her birthday has passed, I will show you though, as what we did choose is also very sweet.}

PS. Thank you to Baking Mad Mama & Wife in the City who have recently awarded me the awards featured on the left. I am most appreciative and will post the required list of favourite blogs and facts about myself soon. In the meantime, thank you, and please look at their blogs if you haven't already.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

While The Husband is away

Husband is away this week. It is his first business trip and he is going wine tasting in Burgundy. He is a lucky boy. It is also the first time that he has been away without me for more than 2 nights since we have lived together and certainly since we got married. Yet while I will miss him I am looking forward to a little time to do some more girly activities and some other things which will be easier when there is no-one to distract me. So, this week I aim to:

. have the clothes sort out that I keep promising to. Which will actually include going through all the clothes that haven't been worn since Husband and I moved to our current flat (and being ruthless). If it hasn't been worn in the last three years and isn't a family hand-me-down (as some of my jumpers belonged to my Mum) then they are going to the charity shop.

. make these Cinnamon whirls which look yummy and scrumptious and which I have been meaning to make them for weeks.

.visit the Tower of London with my W.I group and attend the 700 year old Ceremony of the Keys which is a ritual locking up of the crown jewels. Which will then be followed by a traditional English fish and chip supper in the pub inside the Tower which is usually only frequented by the Beefeaters.

.meet a blogging friend for tea and cakes after work (hers, not mine). And possibly meet a new blogging friend too. I love meeting my blogging friends in real life!

.have a girlie Saturday with my girlfriends which I hope will involve watching Strictly Come Dancing of which I will admit to being a bit of a fan... Whilst I don't like the overly showy format or Bruce, or even costumes (and particularly not the spray tans), I do love the dancing and "the journey" (even if it is a naff phrase) that each of the dancers experience. Although I did find it odd this year that I knew/recognised the professional dancers more than the so called 'celebrities'. (Except for Natalie from Eastenders. Despite never watching Eastenders I did somehow know who she was. All that magazine reading I used to do when I had a secretary clearly paid off). I hope we shall have a cliched day of laziness, pampering, nice food and trashy television.

.catch up on my winter handwashing. I admit it. I am terrible. I tend to have a clear up at the end of the summer/winter and throw everything into the spare linen basket where it remains until the seasons change and I have a need for, in this case, jumpers and scarves and mittens. So I shall use the opportunity to hang jumpers all over the flat whilst Husband is away. I might even wash one or two of his handwash only jumpers too.

{Photo by Peonies and Polaroids (who else!)}

Friday, 16 October 2009


I have spent the past few days helping a friend with the re-launch of a formerly well-known bedlinen brand. It has been great fun and a fantastic learning experience. All of my wedding planning and implementing experience came in most useful, proof that if you want a career in such things it does not have to be limited to weddings in particular. I 'worked' with the PR team and the stylist covering all areas from the administration side of the event to the implementation of the show. Sadly no creative input (ha, of course not, when one is only helping out) but I gained lots of ideas and inspiration. Oh yes, and I compiled 100 beautiful goody-bags to hand out to the press.

And, as promised, some hints on making your bed look like a show bed. Aside from the obvious which is that packet new, freshly steamed bedlinen makes an enormous amount of difference to appearance, you could try the following (although I can't guarantee it will be as pleasant to sleep in as your usual set up):

. place a thin duvet under the undersheet to make the bed look doubly inviting.
. inside the duvet cover place at least 3, possibly up to 5 duvets, depending on thickness. This will make the duvet easier to arrange and look extra plump.
. you will need 8 fresh pillows and a plethora of cushions. Slightly flat slept on ones are no good, they must be thick and fat and inviting. Place in a variety of matching but contrasting pillow cases from the same range and pile up 4 at the back with 4 on their long sides in 2 rows of 2 in front.
. take a sheet and fold it so that it is poking out of the top of the duvet and tucked under the last row of pillows.
. arrange eiderdown, extra blankets and cushions on top of the artfully arranged duvet.
. hand steam away any wrinkles.
. place scented candles, light, flowers and other accessories on nearby cabinets.

Your bed will look fabulous and your room will smell divine. I am not poking fun here, this really will make your bed look fantastic... you just might need to tone it so that it actually works as a functioning bed too. 5 duvets may be too much for some people. Personally, I came home inspired to declutter and make our flat look a little less, umm, full.

I also took some photos of the show, so I will check whether I can post them for your inspiration as well.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Other people's weddings

Another week, another manic week. Am still here with plenty of stories to tell, including:

. how to dress a bed and bathroom to look like it should be in a magazine
. why going to watch a TV show being recorded is not as much fun as it should be (and why a certain blonde large radio and talk show host is nowhere near as funny in person)

In the meantime I leave you with a series of photos taken by Elegant & Wild at a friend's wedding a few weekends ago. More to come of us dancing later in the week when I've edited them to remove the other guests.

{all photos by Elegant & Wild}