Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Country Living...



This weekend we discovered why the majority of people round these parts drive a 4x4 of some description. Husband arrived home late Thursday night from London. On Friday morning we awoke to snow but managed to get the car out and we drove to our nearest town, where I work. I went to the office, he stocked up on food for the weekend - as well as the wherewithal to make our Christmas presents (which included an entire box of 50 lemons). He came back and collected me at the end of the day. Although snow was lying on the ground in our village we are relatively high up. To be honest, I assumed that was the end of the snow.

Saturday morning we awoke to a further 2-3 inches, freezing winds but gorgeous blue skies. We spent the morning making the first half of our Christmas presents (post to follow) and then after lunch set out for a walk. We were planning on attending a black tie ball in the nearest town that evening; it wasn't until we realised how icy the road was at 4pm that it dawned on us that driving just wasn't going to be an option in our car. The road we have to use to get to the main road is bordered by a river in parts: one false move/slide doesn't bear thinking about.

Given that no taxis would come out and no buses had come through, we telephoned our friends. Who, amazingly, came to the rescue. Which saw us, rather comically, dressed in black tie (me in a knee length cocktail dress) accessorized with thick socks, wellies, enormous tweed coat and hats/gloves sliding down to the main road to be met by a 4x4 which got us safely to the ball and back.

Sunday morning brought further snow and we were again marooned at home, spending the day making more Christmas presents. Monday, however, we awoke to 3-4 more inches of snow and what appeared to be a blizzard. We trudged/slide down to the main road, this time wearing snowboarding trousers along with my tweed and wellies, to try and get the bus to get to work. No chance. The road hadn't been gritted and not even a snow plough had been through. Still, we waited 30 minutes just in case and then abandoned the wait. No buses. No taxis. Working from home it was.


This morning the bus still didn't turn up, despite the main road being a bit clearer. I ended up getting a taxi - it was such a beautiful drive in through snow covered fields and silhouetted trees. Sadly the cloud cover was far too thick to see any of the lunar eclipse. Luckily, the buses were running for my return journey; another pleasant drive through Exmoor. The sheep actually had their heads entirely covered by snow as they attempted to find something to eat and the whole countryside is so muffled and silent that the bird song travels in a very eery fashion. I think Exmoor is made for this kind of weather: it looks so stunning and magical blanketed in thick snow. Almost as if we live in a film set.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Request

Someone I know just got engaged. I want to send them a list of wedding blogs that they *must* read. But, it's a while since I read lots of wedding planning blogs*. So, I ask you, what are your "must read" blogs, themes of which are weddings and wedding planning. I have a basic list, but I would really like your recommendations too. No matter how big/popular the blog or how small/niche it is. Please share your google reader favourites, if you don't mind helping me out.

*I read one or two, of course.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Shak-Shuka (or, shopping for baby showers)

Lots of people I know have had babies recently. Friends both real and in real-life. Sometimes, they fall into both categories. Consequently, I've had to spend some time looking at and buying baby presents recently, which has been my first foray into baby-item purchasing. I didn't really know where to start, so I went to the British High Street and the first shop I came to. It wasn't pretty. It wasn't eco. But the rabbit and elephant and teddy were quite cute.

Today, Christina posted some shoes from Shak-Shuka and I followed the link. (Seems like everyone is reproducing at the moment). And found the most darling eco boutique for babies and mamas. Based in Holland, but will ship anywhere. I particularly loved the recycled plates with ellies on and the little zig zagged babygro. And the bamboo cutlery? Perfect. They are 10 Euros - shipping is 6.95 Euros. Combined with one of those gorgeous bibs: I can see my baby shower presents lining up before my eyes...







All photos by Shak-Suka. 

Co-op Membership Community Fund


When we first moved to Somerset, it was a bit of culture shock to say the least. On that first weary night we drove into the nearest town, looking for food. All of the take-away joints either looked dismal or were closed. Exhausted, we pulled up in front of the Co-op, which was, mercifully, open. It was, I think, the first time I'd ever been in a Co-op. I was surprised to find that so much of the produce was fair trade. I still do a lot of my supermarket shopping there, including things like cotton wool pads, as even those are fair trade. Fair trade is very important to me.

On one of my earlier trips, I was invited to join the membership; every time I shop there, what I spend represents my share of the profit and it is converted back into a dividend for me - and I can either opt to have it paid to me or into the community membership fund.

That community membership fund is then paid back to the community in the form of grants. Groups can apply to the fund for a grant; so far this year The Co-operative Members have donated £1.2 million to local community groups across the country. It is a registered charity and is governed by The Co-operative Community Investment Fund (CCIF). This board of trustees are responsible for ensuring funds to projects are given in line with the Charities Commission guidelines. Grants vary from a minimum of £100 to a maximum of £2,000.

All the group need do is apply through the website for a grant. To be successful a group must:

  • Carry out positive work in the community (it does not have to have charitable status to apply)
And the project must:
  • Address a community issue
  • provide a long-term benefit to the community
  • Support co-operative values and principles
  • Ideally be innovative in its approach
There are many projects in the community here in Somerset who would benefit from a grant from the Co-Op community fund. Without going into any detail of my work, I see all sorts of people who could stand to benefit from a group with a grant. Certainly the local Advice Bureau would benefit from more funding. There are many child care groups who could stand to receive funding, allowing mums (and dads) to return to work. Perhaps increasing their skill set. Hell, the job centre here is so under-funded it's only open 3 days a week, and that can't be because there is so little unemployment.

We could actually really do with a swimming pool. A grant isn't going to build one though, sadly.

(this has been a sponsored post, although, for the record, I think the idea of the community fund is a great idea, regardless of any fee that I may have been given to post. What can I say, "funding" down here is slow, a girls gotta eat).



Cooperative Membership Fund

Cooperative Membership Fund

(Image courtesy of ebuzzing)
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Monday, 13 December 2010

A long weekend in December



This weekend, we did very little. Tree, decorated; fire, lit. Films, watched. Walks taken in the winter sunshine. A spot of shopping. Quite a lot of chestnut and apple stuffing made and eaten. Makes me wish all weekends were 3 day weekends.

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photos by me

Sunday, 12 December 2010

vintage tea sets

When we were planning our wedding - and I can't believe that we started that process two and half years ago; how time does fly - we spent a lot of time looking for vintage tea sets. I started out thinking we would hire them but there was a distinct lack of options. Even the ones that looked promising initially turned out to be a disappointment and so we decided that we needed to take matters into our own hands, painstakingly collecting - in conjunction with our families - a hundred sets of dinner plates, tea plates, cups and saucers. (and cutlery too). It turned out to be beautiful and well worth the effort; we took two sets on our honeymoon and even today we eat off some of the tea plates. I also have enough tea cups and saucers for an extremely large royal celebration next April and every single junior member of my family has inherited part of it for their university lodgings.

Mock Up Table

Planning a wedding now and I understand that is a myriad more options. Just today I stumbled across Vintage Tea Sets, a company who essentially offer a similar service to what we ended up doing ourselves. They also sell candles in vintage tea cups and other tea party essentials as well as hiring crockery for events of all kinds. They are also based in the West Country, and, if you are planning a west country wedding (as we did) they must be well worth investigating. I think I must have been drawn to them as they feature two of my favourite things on their website (vintage crockery and peacock feathers).



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Top photo by me and of our crockery and napkins. We bought all 100 of those too.
Bottom two photos borrowed from Vintage Tea Sets, showing their crockery.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

What does a wedding mean to you?

And, you may well ask, what does it mean to me?

Hop on over to Anna and the Ring and you will see for yourself what I have to say on the matter... (you can also find a sneak peek at her wedding photos too - what are you waiting for?)

Thank you Anna for asking me to write a guest post and congratulations on your marriage.

xoxo

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

What would you do...


... if you won a years salary? The prize is up to £40,000 but, in our late 20s, I doubt if many of us are higher bracket tax payers just yet. So, without giving too much away about how salaries are down here... what would you do if you won £20 something K simply by using PayPal to buy something?

Last night, I bought some jam jar lids on ebay - how amazing that would be if I'd won a years salary at the same time. I know, last of the exciting purchases. Christmas presents is what they're for. I bought a candy thermometer too. That's two entries. It's a weekly draw.

If I had won, I would do a few things. I would pay off my credit card bill. And my professional studies loan. Actually, that wouldn't leave much over. Imagining I did have something left over, perhaps I would pick up a few pieces for work. Never hurts to look good when you're at work...

Perhaps a Tuxedo blazer from Ted Baker, teamed with some slim fit trousers. Too trendy for my office, but in my imaginary world, they'd look just lovely. I'd wear them with a loose silk and lace top, in mink and black. In my imaginary world, it may be winter but it isn't cold. No need for cardigans here. And then I'd cover it all up with this amazing puff sleeved coat and top it all off with these beautiful shoes.

This has, of course, been a sponsored post. Thank you.

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Monday, 6 December 2010

December

Frosty Morning


December 
Frosty mornings with amber sunlight silhouetting sheep and trees against frosty fields, sparkling in the morning light. Cosy evenings snugged up by the wood fire, new blanket over knees.
Slow cooked lamp. Steak. Shepherd's Pie.
TV watching in bed. 
Dunster by Candlelight
Mulled wine, hog roast, lemon and sugar pancake eaten out of a paper bag held in mitten hands.
Owls. 
The sparkliest stars I have ever seen.


(Photo credit)

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Committed (A Sceptic Makes Peace with Marriage)

Committed

Or perhaps this post should be titled "a sceptic makes peace with reading books that she thought she would hate but actually turned out to enjoy"...

Or, even, on a wider level, how wedding blogging and the blogging community made me think and challenge relationships and issues and turns out that I am not exactly who I thought I was 2 years ago...

Long before I got engaged or married I knew my relationship with my Husband was different. Instead of encouraging me to be dependent and obsessive and spend hours wondering why-he-hadn't-done-what-I-hoped-he-would-do-but-hadn't-actually-told-him-so-he-had-no-idea-that-was-what-girls-thought, he encouraged me to lead my own, full, independent, happy life. Lives which were gradually more and more intertwined but ones in which we were whole people forming a better, stronger life together. A twist rather than a straw, if you will.

I gradually started questioning issues which I had always taken for granted but the big stuff, that didn't really change. Whereas once people thought I was fairly conservative in my views (big and small C) I started to realise I was more liberal than I - or others- gave me credit for. I do have some core absolutes which I (still) think I remain certain about [although I fully accept that until - god forbid- the circumstances ever applied to me, I may not be so sure] but there are plenty of other circumstances and situations where I have changed my mind because (revolution here we come) I actually thought about it. Although I am still yet to be convinced about children and televisions. Say what you like, but I have never heard a convincing argument to persuade me that the two should meet for many years. Although, of course, I can still sleep through the night.

And whilst I credit Husband for allowing me the space to find this out, I credit blogging for opening my mind to other viewpoints. Perhaps it's because you can read these viewpoints in one's own time, rather than it being an ever-louder-ever-drunker debate. Not that opening my viewpoint hasn't caused me a fair amount of distress, mind you. Take, for example, my family. Once upon a time I thought that our way of doing things was the right one. Then I went to school and realised that there are plenty of ways of doing things. I was still convinced that our way of sorting out problems was good. Until I really started to think about it and question it. Now I am not so sure. Without going into specifics, there are definitely issues which I hope I will not be repeating if and when we ever reproduce.

Other things, I have come to later. I had always assumed that I would change my name on marriage, much like I just always assumed I would go to university (being the 3rd generation in my family to go to university I was surprised to find at school that some people there were the 1st). Later, actually, even after changing my name, I have thought about it. Especially in relation to identity. I am still convinced with my choice, which is fortunate. It has also made me aware of just how important a first name choice is for a baby.

All of which is a very long winded way of saying that I surprised myself by enjoying Elizabeth Gilbert's book. I found the concept of Eat, Pray, Love  difficult to get excited about. Not because of the advance or the film but because it didn't appeal. (Although Agirl may have persuaded me I should give it a go). Similarly, when I realised that the APW Book Club was reading Committed, I wasn't filled with a desperate urge to buy more books. But I am glad I did, because it has been an interesting read so far, I like Elizabeth Gilbert's writing style and I am interested in her reconciliation with the idea of marriage - perhaps because it is so far from what I know of marriage. I also am interested in reading about marriage around the world and her pondering as to why US marital and familial relationships are so much more isolated and so much more pressured to be something that perhaps they were never designed to be. More, I guess, when I actually finish it.

And lastly, because it was thanksgiving last week and I didn't say it then - thank you. For reading and challenging and informing.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Happy Holidays

Traditionally, the holiday season in the UK doesn't start until Advent does, which is on Advent Sunday. 28 November this year. In this more multi-cultural society though it seems the holiday season starts just about after Halloween. In the US, the holiday season, I believe, starts tomorrow, with Thanksgiving. For the 2 years that my family lived in California, we celebrated Thanksgiving and have done so on and off for the last 20. This weekend we will gather at my parents house to celebrate, not on Thursday, because we do not have a national holiday, but on Saturday. For the first time ever all three of us girls are bringing their boyfriend/husband and our Grandparents will be there too.

Slowly, in the UK, we are embracing what I see as 'US' customs and traditions: Halloween was the first one, grasped perhaps because of our national thirst for dressing up and for our multi-cultural society's desire to have faith-less festivals for everyone to get behind. Baby showers followed too - I attended my first one this year and was advised by an American friend I should take a card to say "you will be a great mother". Trouble is, the UK card market hasn't caught on and our cards are only suitable for once baby is born. Where I live, it's hard enough to find a card for twins... This year, I have heard that some retailers are having Black Friday sales. I'm not quite sure how these will work, given that Friday is not a day off in the UK, but it can't be long before Thanksgiving is marked in some way here (although I am not quite sure what we will attribute it to; we have plenty to be thankful for including a bountiful harvest - which is what wikipedia suggests Thanksgiving is for - but I cannot be alone in thinking it has something to do with Native Americans and the first settlers, and perhaps it is inappropriate us celebrating the fact that English dissenters left Britain behind for a better life).

Christmas, too, takes a more secular role in our calendar every year. Indeed, even as someone that was raised Christian, some of my favourite aspects of Christmas barely bridge the gap between religion and secular celebration: candlelit carol services, mulled wine, listening to Carols from Kings on the car radio on Christmas Eve as we drive across dark countryside to reach our families, the making of our now annual Christmas jam/chutney, the week off work to be with family. I guess these all do have religious roots: the carols, the journey from afar, the gathering of the family - all are present within the Story of Christmas, yet I am not journeying to worship a saviour born as a baby, or bringing a present to celebrate the birth. The centre of my Christmas is my family and a celebration of that. Yet peace on earth and goodwill to men are what we sing in church in celebration - adding to the peculiar mix that is the British Christmas: a mix of Christian symbolism, Victorian traditions (christmas cards, snow), European influences (christmas trees, father christmas) carried out with 20th/21st century tastes.

And, now that we are married, we blend our holiday traditions even further. To me Christmas is not Christmas without "Christmas Ham" and bread sauce, and stuffing and sitting around a darkening table, illuminated by candlelight, eating satsumas and Christmas pudding as the light fades and conversation ebbs and flows, accompanied by coffee. Only then, once a fire has been lit and tea made, can the present opening begin. By contrast, Husband's family open presents in their pyjamas in the sitting room and the Christmas meal is roast beef. Each perfect in it's own way and, until there are grandchildren, we alternate between these year on year. In time, we will have our own baby family blend on the day itself to accompany our own traditions: spending a weekend in December making our jam/chutney/etc (everyone keeps returning the jars throughout the year, we assume this means we should continue), hosting a 'Christmas' meal of thoughts for what we used to coin our "London Family", although clearly, that is now inaccurate, and this year, is going to be on New Years Eve instead. We have largely abandoned christmas cards, preferring e-mail. We made stockings last year for our first married Christmas which we filled for each other and which we hope will become an annual event.

I hope too, that Thanksgiving will become an annual event, perhaps, in time, hosted by Husband and I, with both families present. Elderly grandparents in disparate locations mean that this will not be possible for Christmases, and, in truth, until there is a change in personnel (incoming or outgoing, to put it bluntly) I don't see Christmas changing just yet...

Monday, 22 November 2010

One november weekend



We took a long weekend this past weekend. On Friday morning, we headed for Taunton and the cinema and Harry Potter. Popcorn and latte for breakfast whilst watching our trusty threesome begin their (sometimes tortuous and sometimes tedious occasionally exciting and even once rather touching) witchcraft related road trip to locate the horcruxes before either Harry or Voldermort wins. Definitely a film where you needed to have read the book. I would recommend reading it again before you go, by the way. Some while in, Dobby appeared. Dobby, I thought to myself, I must have misheard. I remembered him dead, books ago, weeping silent tears as I read him giving his life to aid Harry Potter, repaid by the digging of his grave by hand, not magic. Yet die Dobby did, in this book not the last. And then it ended, part way through, the kind of climatic end to half time as it were. And a year yet, until the finale.

Lunch in Taunton (don't bother with the place we tried, should you ever be in Taunton, looking for lunch and thinking that the olive tree looked in any way appealing. The soup was disappointing, watery, inedible. We, politely of course, pointed this out. The waitress pretty much ignored us, smugly charging us full price. Downstairs, the owner informed us that it was us that was lacking, not his soup. We left, outraged. Vowed never to return.

Drove north, to the Cotswolds, to Stratford and the naffest hired house I have seen in a long time. Decor from the 80s, child sized twin beds in every room. Bar the master suit, intended by a friend as a romantic gesture to his (relatively) new girlfriend. How romantic they felt in a bed dwarfed by dark floor to ceiling shiny wardrobes on every wall save the doorway to the ensuite, which had no door, I never did find out. No loo roll. Charged a non refundable £60 fuel charge on top of the rent plus any electricity above that - and being that they charged 17p a unit and there were no draw-able curtains - it was. Another place I shan't be returning (or recommending - New Inn House between Evesham and Straftord in case you should be planning a visit to the midlands).

And then, the wedding. A lovely, winter-y candle lit celebration of love and friendship and hip hop karaoke. Although there was less of the actual karaoke - that all went down at the engagement party. This was a hog roast in a converted barn with a massive open fire and old fashioned sweets on tables. Where best men read strange christmas carol style speeches and where french husbands watched bemused as people queued for the cheese table. Where there was a hat line in the foyer to the loo and cowshed toiletries and candles which said 'love'. And slightly drunken aunties posed suggestively for the photobooth which was on a balcony.

And where I wore my beautiful, Anathema Design-ed headpiece and a vintage crystal beaded velvet dress and won £20 on the wager for the length of the best mans speech. 

Monday, 15 November 2010

Anathema Designs



I came across these amazing pieces last week, made by Anathema Designs. They are made from recycled products and the creator is a trainee architect which comes across in the structure and composition of the pieces. I also love the idea of her work as "an attempt to change perceptions about what is beautiful and what isn’t". It is very refreshing to see jewellery which is well made, chunky, satisfying heavy, recycled and unusual and not at excessive prices.

The top one photo is a necklace made from a steel zip and the bottom one is a pendant made from recycled watch parts.

I have commissioned a zip piece. I am going to a wedding next weekend and have asked for my zip to be on a headband to complement a velvet and crystal vintage dress. Part sort of 20s, part up to date fabric and styling. I can't wait for it to arrive...

Monday, 1 November 2010

The Persephone Ninety: Diary for 2011

I can't remember where I first came across Persephone Books. Someone else's blog no doubt. Every so often I go to the website and look through the books and the beautiful end covers and think about buying one. Or two. Or a whole stack.

And then, in about mid October, my thoughts turned, as they do every year, to next year's diary. Even in the midst of iphones and google calendars I am the girl who uses a Smythson address book and spends aeons deciding on the perfect diary every year. I might also be the girl who splurged her first post university paycheck on a box of Smythson stationery and was over the moon when I won a box of Hello Lucky letterpressed personalised note cards last year.

Every year I start looking for the perfect diary, trying to balance out beauty vs practicality vs expense. I can never quite justify the Smythson offerings, beautiful though they are. The address book, whilst a present, also lasts year on year. Even though I keep all my old diaries in a box, it still is only for the year. It's days are numbered from the moment it is opened. 

Last year, to celebrate my first proper grown up qualified job, I bought one from Liberty (only it was a bit smaller). It is stunning and came it a lovely box (nearly as important as the book itself) and the turquoise embossed leather cover cheers me up every time I open it. But the pleasure stops there. The paper is a disappointment. I write in fountain pen and it shows through to the other side. It also has a page to a day. Which would have been fine in London. But I live in the country now. I know which days I go dancing and which days I collect M from the station. My appointments I need to remember are fewer and further between these days. The lack of pleasure in writing on the paper and the disappointment of all those days with nothing to note meant, sadly, I needed a different option.

So, I was so pleased when I realised that Persephone made a diary. With endpapers from all their books as the opposite pages to all the weeks. And with the first line of each book on the page. And each endpaper being a vintage fabric from the same year as the book was published. And all for £10. I ordered one and waited for it to arrive. And it arrived bent. With a creased cover. With shiny pages that I cannot write on with fountain pen. But beautiful nonetheless. 

If you live in London and can visit their shop and you write in pencil or biro - go and get one. You will not be disappointed.

---
UPDATE
You may well be disappointed by the shop itself if this e-mail interchange is anything to go by:

Peacockfeathers: Thank you for my diary which I received on Saturday. I was pleased to receive it but very disappointed at the condition in which it arrived. Luckily, I purchased it for my own use and it doesn't overly matter that it is bent and has a crease in the back cover but had I bought it as a gift, I would have been unable to use it.  Also, whilst I think the diary contents are beautiful, I usually write with a fountain pen which would be impossible in this diary as the pages are shiny. I had thought about adding a book or two to my order but I will think twice about mail order now. Such a shame because the books are lovely.

PersephoneBooks: Hi - so sorry you do not like the diary. We did it in flexibinding because we did not want the diary to fall to bits, but we are very disappointed that you do not like it. Do put it in the envelope, write 'return to sender' and return it, and I'll refund the money. Apologies again.

 Peacockfeathers: Thank you for your e-mail. I am not sure whether you actually read my first e-mail.I at no point said that I did not like the diary. I was merely pointing out that the packaging was insufficient and it arrived bent and creased, which was a disappointment. I was pointing this out to you to allow you to do something for future orders so others were not similarly damaged. I was also commenting on the paper choice to give constructive feedback for future editions.

PersephoneBooks: Dear Rachel Lastname, oh dear, I was only trying to be helpful! Thank you very much for your advice, for which we are indeed extremely grateful and yes we will try to improve our packaging and our paper. 

 Maybe I am being extraordinarily sensitive and my e-mails were too rude or abrupt but I felt extremely patronised by Persephone Books. I'll let you guys decide whether you think it's worth it for the diary.


---
Photos 'borrowed' from Persephone Books website.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Piggy in the Middle

There are many things that I miss about London. I thought restaurants would be one of them but there is a surprisingly good selection of places to eat to choose from down here. We are slowly attempting to try out them one by one.

Voucher Codes are compiling a list of local restaurants and I didn't want to let my new village down without mentioning our (only restaurant). Surrounded by pubs and hotels, Piggy in the Middle is situated bang in the middle of Porlock, along the stretch of 'high street' which is lit up by pretty little lights and looks so welcoming as you come down the hill and through the village.  On Exmoor we are lucky to have a fantastic selection of local produce being both on the moor and coastal. We have organic produce everywhere we turn and thankfully Piggy in the Middle serves up yummy dishes full of local food.

Fine dining it's not. The house wine comes in a carafe, the napkins are black linen, it's a little faux french in decoration and the coffee is less than desirable but the food is nicely cooked and the service is friendly. Too many viewings of Masterchef and Junior Roux have led me to notice things like plate choice, symmetry and style of the food and precisely how acidic the beurre blanc is yet what really matters on a Thursday night when you book with ten minutes notice is that the food is cooked by someone who knows how to choose their ingredients. We shared a prawn, rice and salad dish and a herb and tomato crusted salmon fillet with a sticky toffee pudding and felt satisfyingly full but not overstuffed. The chef came out to speak to us and there was a happy atmosphere.

Other notable places to eat in the area apparently include Andrews on the Weir, Reeves* in Dunster and (a little further afield) Podshavers in Bishops Lydeard although they all fall into the next price bracket up. At the moment, those are more special occasion restaurants whereas Piggy still falls into the because you feel like going out for supper category. Just what every village needs.

---
Piggy in the Middle
High Street
Porlock
Exmoor National Park
Somerset
TA24 8PS

*beware the music if you open this website.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Dancing (the week away)



Two weeks ago I started ballet again for the first time in ten years. Slowly, my body is remembering the familiar movements. There is something very soothing at standing in a ballet studio listening to a stern lady on a tape commanding "ronde de jambe a terre" "battement tendues" "reverance" and feeling my feet stretching and pointing, my shoulders relaxing and my posture improving. The computer tension sliding away. What I thought I was looking for in yoga but turns out I wasn't.

Four weeks ago I started salsa for the very first time. Slowly my body is able to do the basic steps without looking down all the time. Salsa brought with it two unexpected side effects (other than something to show off at a party): laughter. friends.

I also started a street dance class. We learnt a routine to a song called Green Light. On Friday night when I got back from the pub I kicked off my shoes and treated my friends to a preview... Turns out the chest 'thrusts' (I think that's the best description) are *way* easier after 5 rum and cokes. Who knew.

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Photo by Michelle Cassell via Flickr

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

On being married & extended family


Last weekend, husband's extended family spent the weekend in Somerset. His brother and his wife and the dog stayed with us, his parents and Granny in the upmarket B&B across the road and his aunt and uncle in their campervan. 9 of us sat round the table above for supper on Saturday, 7 of us went to see Germaine Greer speak on Saturday evening, 6 of us drank wine whilst engaging in *ahem* discussions about what she said (and how she flung herself at my husband afterwards), 4 of us stayed up drinking until the early hours, 8 of us walked 4 miles along the coast and picked hoardes of blackberries in soothing golden September sunshine, 9 of us ate lunch outside in the garden whilst drinking lots of champagne in sunshine that was so hot that hats were handed out, 7 of us had afternoon tea on the harbour front, another bottle of champagne watching the sun go down on the deck of said B&B and then the same 7 had a kitchen supper back at our flat. Husband cooked 7 kilos of sirloin steak. I made savoury muffins and cupcakes and soups and salads and coffee and everyone ate everything. It was busy, it was full and it was wonderful.

It's a little quiet now though.

Monday, 6 September 2010

In which I shamelessly borrow photos and plan a second wedding...


It's been a long time since I wrote about weddings but somehow, when I saw these photos I couldn't stop myself. If I was having my wedding again I would ask Cara to take the photos and Sophie to do the flowers. It would mean having a slightly less diy/dit feel to it, but we did that the first time round. Gotta have something a little different if you're going to throw a second wedding party. Or, maybe, I should just have a baby. And invite them both to my baby shower. Maybe that's a better idea. Whatever. But seriously. I could totally do that. I guess I'd just have to get pregnant first. Maybe I'll just have a for the hell of it with a massive budget party*.

{and yes, for those who love to bang on about these things, I totally nicked these photos from P's blog post** and yes, I only 'know' Sophie through Cara.  She posted them, I loved them. So don't bother accusing me of plagurising. Photos that good/subjects that pretty deserve all the exposure they can get}

Photos by Cara; flowers by I Heart Flowers.


*otherwise mostly known as a wedding, I guess.
** speaking of which, we have that very same David Downton print hanging above our stairs.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Um,

Things have been quiet around here, save for the Morocco back story, because things have been hard. Marriages are said to have a 7 year itch; I have had the re-locating equivalent. 7 months in and it's been a hard few weeks. Nothing is new down here any more, summer is ending, I haven't seen people in months and I've had to get used to talking less Monday through Thursday evenings. It's kinda lonely and I miss my friends. Hell, I miss London and my old life. Which hasn't carried on without me, I know that. London has changed, people have moved out, into marriages, in with new lovers, out of old relationships and everyone has fast paced jobs. Yet, some days the vintage buses which run between our village and the town where I work do not charm me. Some days I long for busy tubes and red buses and architecture and fashion and starbucks. To wear high heels. Lipstick. To go out for drinks after work.

Other days I thank god that at least after a stressful day at work I can drive through 7 miles of gorgeous, national park-ified countryside and sit in my beautiful cottage rather than another bloody journey from Holborn to Arsenal jammed up against five other people without enough space to open a newspaper.

Some days I decide we must get a cat. No, a dog. A whippet and a border terrier. A baby perhaps. Other days I cannot even manage to make myself eat and so looking after something else is out of the question. Work is hard. I feel unsettled. I am busy but sometimes I feel something is missing. I second guess every lonely feeling. Everything feels significant but I can't work out why. Ten year anniversaries of every fucking thing crop up every other week at the moment: losing virginity, passing driving test, A-levels, leaving home, starting university, succumbing to depression. Nostalgia so vivid it's crippling. Songs, music, conversation, sex, books and the way the sunlight looks in the early evening.

Talking about it is hard. Writing is worse. Who wants to read such navel gazing that I brought on myself by choosing to uproot here. Husband has it worse. He still sleeps at different houses each works and holds down his London job with skill and aplomb. He has been promoted.

Yet even unending blackberries, foraging, pies, baking, the onset of an Indian summer and a carnival can't seem to lift me this week....

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Remembering Morocco (Part 3)

We spent the first four days of our trip in Marrakech. Each morning we ate breakfast overlooking the square, each afternoon we watched the sun set from the roof terrace. Marrakech is a very flat city. Each building is supposed to be no higher than the height of a palm tree, except for the mosques, which tower over the city and look beautiful silhouetted against the sunset. The oldest of them all, the Katoubia, was built in the eleventh century and set a trend, both in dimension (the 1 to 5 ratio) and the beautiful tiling around the top. They stand imposing, the call to prayer sounding from loud speakers attached to their tops. All of the other building are of a similar height. It seems that there are two Marrakechs, the one at street level and the one at roof level. I stand, watching the sun set over the limits of the city, the snowy tips of the Atlas mountains visible in the distance, looking over the roofs, the many many satellite dishes and wondering if I could walk over the top of the city if I wanted, jumping from terrace to terrace over the tiny alley ways which divide the houses.



But after four days of wandering through souks and sitting in gardens, we decided that it was time to do something a bit different. We rose early on the fifth morning, earlier than usual, about the same time that we would do at home to go to work. By 8.30am we were sitting in Djemma El Fna, waiting for Omar to pick us up. All we knew was that we were going for 3 days. One night we were to stay in a riad, the other a tent. We knew we were heading over the High Atlas, across the desert the other side, eventually for the sand seas of Erg Chebbi, near to the Algerian border. We had been told 8.30am. It came and it went. The minutes ticked by towards 9am and we began to wonder if it had been such a good idea after all. And then, there was a white landie pulling up. A man jumped out. He loaded our bags in and we climbed aboard. An English voice greeted us. "Hi" she said. "I'm Fizz". And that was the last time we doubted Omar.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Remembering Marrakesh (part 2)

Our riad doesn't serve breakfast. It is more towards the backpacker end of the market. So we start each day with a quick walk across the Djemma El Fna to one of the caf├ęs with roof terraces looking over the square. We soon settle on a favourite, which has fewer English speaking tourists, metal chairs with cushions and proper (rather than paper) tablecloths. We order the usual 'petit dejeuner', a basket of bread with a pot of butter, a pot of 'confiture' (which is sometimes jam, sometimes marmalade, occasionally honey), very fluffy orange juice and a cafe au lait and sit back in our chairs, enjoying the morning sun, which already feels rather warm, and watching the movement below in the square. Sometimes we read, sometimes I paint but mostly we sit and watch the people go by. Everyone seems very busy doing not very much at all. The snakes charmers gather under their green umbrellas, their white coats and yellow shoes distinct from the old ladies in black who sit armed with henna under their umbrellas. There are five, six, seven men all identically dressed, taking it in turns to sit and play haunting but garish riffs on what appear to be metal recorders, trying to provoke their snakes into moving, whilst others try and draw in people to watch, to photograph and most importantly to pay. The crowds shift and move rather like tides. Circles gather around raconteurs and acrobats. Men lie in the shade of their umbrellas. A group of men with wheelbarrow like carts sleep in them whilst waiting for business. The orange juice sellers call out for business. It is a strangely compelling place, the Djemma El Fna.

And through it runs a road although it is barely delineated, if at all. More scooters, more bikes, horses, donkeys, men pushing wheelbarrows, delivery vans, the occasional 4x4. One man we see has about 20 boxes of 16 eggs piled on the back of his scooter, held on by two bungees. Another man is on a bike carrying an enormous basket of bread between his legs, his knees bent out right to the side, peddling away. One woman appears to be carrying a TV. She is riding on the back of a scooter. There is a certain scooter style - left leg turned out, foot hanging off, more often than not with the left arm carelessly draped towards the back of the bike. Some have small black helmets (straps undone) perched on their heads. Most are wearing cloaks, open backed shoes, plain muted colours. It is not until I visit a hamaam that I see a non tourist woman without a hejab or similar.

The hamaam we visit it not a tourist one. It is further down the street on which our riad is, further into the 'residential' part of the Medina. There are 2 entrances, separate ones for women and men. We go in at the same time, M and I, so that neither has to wait around. I don't get hassled very much when I am walking next to M. But in the ten minutes that I stand outside afterwards, waiting for M, I get watched, stared at and called to more than the rest of the trip put together. I am nervous going in on my own, my French is more limited than M's. But all the French in the world wouldn't have helped me, once inside, as the women in there appear to only speak Arabic. They gesture to me to remove me clothes. I had read that full nakedness is taboo, so I change under my towel. I put on bikini top and bottoms. The women gesture at me to remove the top.

She takes off all her clothes and changes into an enormous pair of knickers. Wearing only bikini bottoms and flip flops, I follow her. We walk through a room which is full of naked ladies, sitting on the floor surrounded by buckets of water. They are chatting and washing, catching up on gossip I cannot understand but recognise by tones, glances and body language. They look at me with detached interest. I am taller, skinnier, whiter and blonder than all of them. But I don't feel awkward, not at that point. I follow the lady assigned to me through to the next room. She fills buckets at a tap and washes down the floor. She gestures and I sit down. She soaps me with brown gooey soap, which I later discover is 'savon noir' and then scrubs me with a mitt, all over, no part left untouched. Behind the ears, inside elbows, ankles, the lot. I feel like my skin is coming off, but also invigorated and as if my blood is circulating better. And then, just as quickly as it started, it is over. She is waving her arms. I can't understand her. I try gesturing. We still can't understand each other. A younger girl is called over. "Parlez-vous francais?" "Un petit peu" "c'est finit". I follow her out into the slightly cooler changing area and she hands me my towel which I had hung just fifteen or so minutes earlier on a peg. I get dry and changed. The atmosphere has shifted. It no longer feels like people are watching me with distracted fascination. I feel an intruder in their private social space, alienated because we cannot communicate with each other. I do not know the customs of a traditional native hamaam and feel that they feel I am rude for waiting until they indicate by gesture what I must do. My bag is handed back to me and she stands there waiting. She is after a tip. But I only have 2 dirham. I hand it over and she tuts. I cannot tell if the amount I gave her was reasonable or whether she was just hoping for more because I am a tourist. An academic thought though, as I have no more money with me. She limps off muttering and I leave, starting to feel claustrophobic, with a general "au reviour". The ladies have returned to their soup making and tea drinking and do not even look up.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Marrakesh

{Lying in bed after a afternoon's scything in the meadow-now-garden}

Jamie Oliver (on tv): "the best Morrocan cooking is in the home"

R: "It really does sound like that doesn't it. Marrakesh. And he's right, you need to go to Marrakesh to cook, not eat. The restaurants were crap, weren't they. Do you remember the stalls in the Djemma El Fna".

M: "Mmmm. Shall we have chicken or lamb for supper in our tagine?"

---

To celebrate five years together, Husband and I went to Marrakesh for two weeks. I wrote about the experience back when I had two readers and a different blog address. Watching Jamie in Marrakesh reminded me of the trip and I thought people might be interested...

Morocco: Part One


And so our trip started by watching the sun set from the plane, a fantastic sight as all the colours of the rainbow were visible around the tilt of the earth with darkness above and below the rainbow, with only the wing of the plane visible as a silhouette against the rainbow.

We landed at Marrakech airport which had no shops to speak of save for a stand selling drinks. A cat, the first of many cats we were to see throughout our time in Morocco (although we didn't know it at the time), wondered over to say hello. We changed some money and then followed the 'sortie' signs. Into a car park. Where several beige cars were parked, surrounded by a gaggle of men wearing long cloaks with pointed hoods. "taxi" they said. "Djemma El Fna". And so began a period of haggling, where they tried to make us pay three times the amount our guide book suggested, and we told them "c'est plus cher". Eventually the arrival of a German couple meant that we managed to persuade them to take us all for a price we were both happy with. And then we were off. Weaving in and out of bikes, scooters, petit taxis, grande taxis and an assortment of cars and horse drawn caleches. Each bike had two or more occupants, most with a man driving, a woman hanging on the back and a child sat on the lap of the woman. Although it was dark the air was still warm, hotter here at night than the daytime England we had left behind and the city walls glowed red in the glare of the street lamps. Benches lined the walls, each one occupied by a couple, here and there a moped or scooter parked next to them.

And then we had stopped and we were in the middle of what seemed to be a festival. People were everywhere, small children offered biscuits from baskets, others talking loudly to each other, shouting over the crowds. More scooters weaved in and out. Smoke drifted up from many stands gathered in the square, the place, the assembly of the dead. The Djemma El Fna.



Through the chaos we managed to get our bearings and began finding our way down winding narrow streets full of more bikes, mopeds and people. It was a street off the southern side of the Djemma El Fna and seemed all the narrower for the shops, wares and people spilling out from the sides. People walked down the right leaving the centre clear for mopeds, bikes, donkeys pulling carts. The air thick with the smell of hundreds of suppers being cooked, of drains, of donkeys and occasionally spices or perfumes from one of the shops. But this road wasn't one of the souks; this was a more residential street. Each even tinier alleyway off to the side had many doors opening off it. Cats lurked in every corner. Men lounged or squatted by every shop. People spoke to us in Arabic, in French. A small boy followed us, trying to ask us where we were going. "Non monsieur" repeated in ever stronger tones, and still he persisted. And then suddenly, we found the riad (guest house).

Arriving finally. Finally. But no, "c'est complete", "but we have a reservation". He comes out, shutting the door behind him. He leads us to another riad several streets away. We are shown to a room. He leaves. The new proprietor asks for more money than the reservation. We haggle. He finally relents. The room is basic but functional. The walls are red and cold. There is no hot water. We drink the first of many mint teas in the courtyard, the tea poured from a great height into a small glass, to aerate it and allow the mint and sugar to mix. We start to realise that we may be on the same timeframe GMT wise, but everything in Morocco takes its own time.

And so it goes on. Very hot by day, cooler by night. Local women are covered up, wearing more clothes than I thought possible in that heat. I buy a scarf, even in the moderate clothing I brought I feel exposed. Other tourists wear shorts and vest tops but I feel more respectful to their culture my way. Call to prayer punctuates the air five times daily, a mournful lament of a wail, broadcast over a loud speaker system from the tops of the mosques, each on slightly different and an altered tone or timing. The air is full of sound. And smells. Spices, leather, bad drains, mint, food cooking, horse pee. The sun shines through the gaps in separated rays and is full of dust. Everyone calls out to you, "lovely jubbly", "fish and chips" "only to look" "I give you good price". Each shop-owner knows these English phrases but no more.

We wander through the souks, everything you could want, many times over said Canetti, and he was right. Rows and rows of colourful shoes, scarves, carpets. We haggle for a few minutes over a small handbag. He starts high, I start low. He says I am a Berber, I tell him his price is too expensive. I start to walk away. A hand on my arm "excuse me" and he lowers his price. We finally settle on a price which suits us both. I soon learn to keep my sunglasses on, stopping only to admire things that I am prepared to actually buy. We both realise that no matter how much you think you will stick to your best price, you often will go slightly higher. We wander and admire and finally emerge in small squares, blinking at the bright light after the darker alleys of the souks. We realise that the map in our guide book is not much use. You simply have to wander and eventually come across the Djemma El Fna and our bearings can return. Everything here takes it own time.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Brittany


We arrived back last night in Portsmouth in glorious evening sunshine after a week with my parents on the boat in Northern Brittany. Sailing, fishing, sleeping, reading and drinking coffee in little cafes.

As soon as I have washed the mountain of salty sailing clothes and completed a myriad work related tasks, I will tell you all about it...

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Warships in Portsmouth, husband fishing and his catch, all by me and iphone.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Shikasuki


One of the things I miss most about London is shopping. From the weekends I used to spend in Shikasuki to browsing in Liberty to Camden Passage and all manner of shops in between. These days, in Somerset, where the shops are full of walking gear or worse quality than Primark but at 10 times the cost, internet shopping is where it's at for me.

Most of the high street shops sell on online so I managed to buy a Jil Sander for Uniqlo suit in the sale, and a little jacket for a wedding from Topshop but my passion for vintage has gone unrequited for a while now. Not for much longer. My beloved Shikasuki is almost online. The blog has launched and soon will come the website.

One of the other things I have missed is London Fashion Week. I was very sad to have missed Shikasuki's fashion show in February and hope to get back to London in September for the next one. The image above is from February's show and would look perfect as a guest for a summer wedding or for a swanky meal on a glam holiday.

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Photo from shikasuki.com

Friday, 16 July 2010

Something that made me laugh today...

I was reading the article in which Meg of APW is quoted in on CNN and somehow fell to reading the comments too. One commenter went into great depths about how cheap and fabulous her wedding was (tbh, I got bored after 2 sentences) and that she had been told she should become a wedding planner.

The commenter immediately after: {Sheppard1} "If you do go in to wedding planning, lets hope you don't charge by the word..."

Great that the article is putting forward creative and practical wedding sites and examples to further counteract the WIC but sad how many people still think that their wedding day is *their* chance to spend as much money humanly possible on *their perfect idea* of what a wedding should and sod the expense to husband*-to-be, loans or parents.

Apologies for the leave of absence once more. Back soon with tales of more weddings. As usual, you can follow my day-to-day this and thats via twitter (see box at top right).
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*I use husband only here deliberately as I have yet to come across an example where the wife-to-be of a wife is hell bent on getting her way and her way only. No doubt they exist but I suspect in way smaller numbers...

Monday, 5 July 2010

July


In the words of Cara, who so often knows *just* how to put it, today was poo on a stick. PMT, work being a total arse, Wimbledon over, husband having to return to London, my new iphone failed to be delivered again because somehow the driver *still* can't work out which house we live in and ignores instructions to call and did I mention PMT.

Still, we went to a gallery opening on Saturday (read more here) and I fell in love with Kate Wyatt's line drawings of animals. She also has rabbits and hares but it is these doormouses that I love the very best. One day, when work has stopped being an arse, and I am back on shopping, I will buy these and hang them in my office (seeing as I spend far more effing time staring at those walls than in my actual home).

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Image by Kate Wyatt

Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Summer weekend in Shropshire



One day, I might actually have enough time to write a proper post. We got back from Shropshire at 12.30am on Monday morning and I am still playing catch up at work from our holiday. We spent the weekend at M's parents' golf course helping out with M's father's captains weekend. There was a black tie dinner dance on the Saturday evening and then on Sunday M's parents were hosting a marquee on the 11th green, serving refreshments including a barbeque to all the players as they came round. All 200 of them. Here I am helping out.

I also wanted to share this little insight on twitter. I am not sure about it being grand enough to be Jane Austen but it certainly felt a little like Miss Joan Hunter Dunn. But I love how English the weekend must have sounded. And it was. Tea, sandwiches, burgers in rolls, sunshine, golf and vintage dresses.

AmidPrivilege RT @peacockfeather: On our way to shropshire for M's dad's captains weekend. Black tie dinner dance tonight. [sounds like jane austen:)]

 {photo by M of me in a 1950s vintage American sundress and panama hat. Despite the occasion being so English I wanted to channel a Madmen-esque look of being decoratively supportive}

Friday, 25 June 2010

Gozo Doorways

Straight back to work after getting off the plane. Busy week. Off again for a family do. No time to stop or think or even get back on track with work or blogging or washing. And yet I found these turquoise doorways extremely soothing. When I am a grown up all my doors will have handles like the bottom right and be stained a beautiful shade of green.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

postcard from gozo

It's hot here. Hot and dry and dusty and far more arid here
than I thought possible. The island is mostly yellow and beige
and brown, low against a blue sky. If you imagined a mix of
Italian, english and arabic, gozo is what you'd get. Stone buildings
with few exterior windows round inner coutyards, villages with central
squares, churches with mosque like round tops, siestas and red
telephone boxes.

We are staying in an old farm house, high on the cliff, at the
far west of the island. The sun sits on the walled terrace with pool
all day, at the end of the day filling the vaulted interior with warm
amber light. Walk outside onto the dusty road and you are immediately in farm
land, peaceful yet sinister. On the first day we discovered a fire which had sprung
up in the stubbled fields and was burning the cliffside and hay bales. We called the
fire brigade and stood there watching the flames raging amongst debris which, to my over-imaginative
mind suggested far sinister a scenario: helmet, car/plane seat and a trainer, all within 20 metres
of each other. The wind shrieking past does nothing to dispell the thought.

Life settles quickly into a pattern, as it does anywhere. Sleeping,eating, swimming, painting and long leisurely evening meals
with plenty of wine and conversation well into the early hours. Occasionally we leave the immediate vicinity of the village for
food, or to walk, or go to the beach. Last night we sat on a roof top for supper
and then in a square with a lit up church, tables and beer and watched the football. Tonight we will go dancing
at a club which today's guardian tells us is so good that it is reminiscent of ibiza's
glory days. It matters not to me, I just want to dance all night in an open air nightclub on the beach/caves.

To be continued...

Thursday, 10 June 2010

To Gozo

I have been putting off writing recently because I felt I didn't have the photos on the right computer to go with the post. Well, bugger that. Perhaps you even read for the writing, not the photos anyway?

This week has been one busy, rollercoaster week. We spent Sunday afternoon watching two baby blue-tits learn to fly and helped them out of several sticky situations. The larger one even sat and shouted on my hand for a long while after I helped him out of the tangle he got into my my jumper on the washing line. Sadly, by twilight they still hadn't managed to even take off and so, as it got dark, we retreated inside, leaving them snuggled into the wall outside in a sheltered corner, heads under wings. We sat and wrote an application form for a beautiful cottage we had set our hearts on renting from the National Trust. In the morning, the blue-tits had both died, lying peacefully on the floor, seemingly too small to last the night. We didn't even get an interview for the house - apparently we hadn't applied for one before and others had, so we were vetoed before we could even make our case. I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried on both discoveries.

This weekend marks our first anniversary. We leave for a week in Gozo on Tuesday but first to London, for a hen party on Saturday, afternoon tea in a swanky hotel on Sunday and perhaps a spot of London shopping. Yet, leaving work for a week means that this week I have been inundated with stuff to do - everything seems to happen at once and I am so busy I haven't even packed yet. I also have done no planning for the hen party, not even an outfit, and I still have to buy a silly item for the bride. We are also supposed to bring cupcakes for a picnic but eff knows when I am going to find time to fit that it.

I am also feeling surprisingly sad that it's a whole year since our wedding. I had such an amazing time that weekend with all our friends and family. I wish we could do it again. Not the wedding perhaps, but that party. Still, we have to leave it to others this year. But happy about anniversaries. (Although I am definitely a bad wife - I haven't yet even thought about an anniversary present. I haven't even had time to make a card. Please, tell me I'm not the only one.) I really cannot believe that a whole year has passed.

I have also found out about several babies this week, each time I was so excited for the person in question and then sad for myself that we have decided that even if we should get on with trying (undergoing more tests for gynae problems) we just cannot afford to have a baby. Career, money and house wise. It's just not the right time. Yet. I just hope that by the time it is affordable the moment hasn't passed. But yey for those who can and are. I have been absolutely thrilled by each and every announcement, blog friend and real-life friends alike. They are so blurred now anyway I can't remember where if at all the line is these days.

So stress and busy-ness and good news and sad news and how-the-eff-am-I-going-to-fit-it-all-in worries. And yet, after Tuesday, lies a week of sunbathing, wine, cocktails, reading and (hopefully) hot weather.

See you all in a week or so.

Monday, 31 May 2010

Bank Holiday Weekends


porlock wier

Poor neglected blog. I have been busy of late. Work is taking up more and more of my time and, of the time off that I have, we have been spending most of it outside. Last week I learnt how to make a stone oven on the beach to cook sausages. This weekend we went back to the beach at sunset to make a fire, sitting round it watching it roar and flicker in the wind as the light faded out of the sky. Just before it was completely dark we buried the fire. The surround stones were beautifully warm and I used one as a hot water bottle as we walked back to where we had left the car.

Last weekend I went to London for little sister's 23rd birthday. I wore my Jimmy Choo sandals and realised I hadn't worn high heels, dressed up to go out or danced to a DJ since we left London. We spent the rest of the weekend lying in the park in the sun, proper 'Clapham-ites' with our blonde hair, upmarket cider, iced lattes from Starbucks and a sofa throw to lie on.

feethydepark

I returned to Somerset on the Sunday afternoon after complety forgetting that the buses probably didn't return very late on Sundays and leaving the car at work. It was still hot when I arrived back in the west country at 7pm.

This weekend, we had friends down from London and we were joined by more on Saturday afternoon. I watched Sex and the City* and drank cider and lay on the beach and ate fish and chips, prawns and moules. We listened to a local band play Pink Floyd and Led Zepp covers as the sun went down over the sea and drank tea and ate peanut butter cupcakes without icing. Today we sat on a freezing beach in the sunshine whilst the boys skimmed stones and I conducted more polls for Cate** amongst our friends. The kind of country weekend we always talked about having when we lived in London but could never afford to rent somewhere to host one. Turns out there are lots of upsides to our new life.

And then, tomorrow, we start househunting all over again.

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*review to follow later this week. Follow me on twitter to see my earlier immediate thoughts.
**no specific slang name was the general experience.

(photos by me)

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Of weekends.

afternoonteascones

I can hardly believe it but we have been living in Exmoor for 4 months next week. Our visitors are starting to make their second and third visits. Despite having to work yesterday morning we made the most of the weekends sunshine and lay on the beach, out of the wind, wrapped up in cardigans and blankets yesterday afternoon followed by barbecuing fish and then butterflied leg of lamb for supper, with local asparagus we bought from a farm, in the garden. Barbecue over, we removed the grill, added some wood and toasted marshmallows and roasted parcels of bananas and chocolate and drank wine until it got so cold we had to retreat inside, smelling of festivals.

This afternoon, after a lazy breakfast and a quick sojourn to the owl and falconry centre for my sister-in-law to take some photos of an owl for a project, our visitors departed and the rain came sweeping in from sea. I made fruit scones and blackberry goo (compote/jam like substance) from last year's cornish blackberries and a pot of tea and we retired to a picnic on our bed, to watch Shameless, and 90210, and Desperate Housewives. The evening sun has now appeared and the birds are all singing again, post rain. Husband is cooking supper and I am starting to feel relaxed again.

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Afternoon Tea, by me (both contents and photo)