April 10, 2008

Vintage and thrift style


Ok, so you've seen some snippets of my short jollies in Dorset :: beaches, harbours, leafy lanes, family visits. But no trip of mine is EVer complete without a bit of retail therapy. We walked into town down some very pretty little streets, doesn't this row of cottages look so lovely in the morning sunlight?

One of my absolute favourite shops to visit is the Girls Own Store. This shop calls to me, singing, begging me to go in and ooooohh and ahhhhhhh and stroke things. The two Men in my life decide that due to the name of the shop they will stand outside and not enter. Ha!! Its a plan made in heaven as it leaves us Girls to freely browse and oooohhh and ahhhhhhh to our hearts content. Oh it is heaven in this little shop I tell you. It was a damn shame we were travelling by train as I had to think long and hard about just how much I purchased. And the pretty doormat and distressed kitchen shelf wouldn't have fitted in the suitcase no matter how much I wanted them.


There is a definite Vintage vibe about this shop and to be honest I don't buy wholeheartedly into Vintage Style for my own home. I really like elements of it but not the whole kit and caboodle. I do very much like the Greengate goodies though, oooh yes indeedy. Have you just clicked on the Greengate link there? Did you browse the most gorgeous catalogue ever?? Can you feel yourself wanting your life to become a Greengate kind of life? Oh I can, I tell you I am seriously in love with this stuff. I mean, its very similar to our friend Cath Kidston, but for me it has the edge. I could have it all, in every room of my house. I could stand barefoot and wear that apron and hold that gorgeous stripey teapot. I could sit wrapped in a beautiful quilt sipping tea from a ditsy floral mug. That could easily be me wearing a pretty nightie and going to bed in delicious Greengate bedding. (((sigh))


The little rabbit was also from the Girls Own Store, sitting prettily in a basket on a shelf, I could not resist her charms. I suspect it's really meant for Little Girls and not ones that are approaching forty years of age, but I have a soft spot for pretty florals and a cute face.

I have known about the Girls Own Store for a few years now, but had no idea about the lady behind the store. So I was fascinated to see her gorgeous abode featured in two magazines recently and thought I would share with you if you haven't already seen them.
This feature below is from the February issue of Ideal Home. I like the way Ideal Home lists the exact details for us to copy, it couldn't be easier to steal someone else's style!


Not sure if you can read the text above here on the right, but this is what you need to get-the-look:

Delicate florals that evoke a feeling of time gone by
Chunky ceramics with a charming retro look
Traditional crafts such as knitting and crochet
Second-hand finds to add instant character


So you can go and do a bit of style stealing if the mood takes you. A crochet blanket, a floral cushion or two, some Aged Accessories and a dodgy lampshade.Sorted.

And this feature below is from the March issue of Country Living...



I do admire her flair for creating such a well pulled-together scheme, and I adore bits and pieces of it - the abundance of textiles, the spots and stripes, the simplicity of her style. Maybe a bit too vintagey and rustic for me, but it does make me want to go and have tea and cake with her.

April 09, 2008

Family connections


Day two of our holiday and more blue skies and sunshine, weren't we just so spoilt?!

I love going "home" to visit family. Even though I now have my own home and family, theres something very comforting about going back to somewhere thats so familiar and so much a part of who I am. We don't get to go down to see my folks often, maybe two or three times a year as it's almost 300 miles between our doors. When our offspring were Little Babies we had to go by car because of the huuuuge pile of Stuff needed to holiday with babies. But quite honestly, six hours of motorway driving sucks. Big time. So this time and the last, we have made the journey by train instead and although the journey is still a lengthy seven hours, it's a wonderful way to travel. I love train journeys, the changing landscapes, passing in and out of cities and towns, winding our way down the spine of England. A bit of crochet, a cup of coffee, a good book to read and much gazing out of the window, its not a bad way to spend a day.


When we holiday in Dorset we tend to have a handful of places that we return to each time. The beaches, of course, but also some lovely hills, woodlands and picturesque villages. Real picture postcard stuff. Just driving around the deep green lanes of rural Dorset is a something we love to do, even if we only end up going round in a circle. Up and down the lanes, shades of green and sunshine and shadows and pale yellow primroses in the hedgerows. But its not just the landscape we are there for, no no, it's family time too. In the above picture we zooming down the lane on the way to my Mums cottage for lunch in the garden.


My Mums cottage is next to a small river where trout jump. It's old and quaint and small, a two-up-two-down with thick stone walls and cottagey windows with curlywurly latches. Old floorboards and sun faded rugs, a wood burning stove. A wonderfully comfy sofa. Light streaming in through the windows, plants and flowers everywhere.


The plant below is on the bathroom windowsill and has always been there as long as I can remember so goodness only knows how old it is. Its called a Parrot plant, for obvious reasons, and I love it. I nip up to the loo so I can look at it. Mum did give me a cutting from it once when I was a student but sadly my fingers weren't very green back then and it passed away which was rather sad as I would very much like to have my own parrot-producing greenery.


Now let me tell you about Grandmas Easter Basket. Every time we visit, my Mum makes a small table display ready for the Little People. They telephone her weeks in advance to remind her about it, to be reassured she has not forgotten. At Christmas there's a miniature tree with tiny wooden decorations and chocolate coins. In the summer a little painted wooden beach hut appears surrounded by pebbles and chocolate shells. And at Easter here are the little chicks in their golden eggshells with their chocolate eggs. The Little People nearly explode with excitement, and Grandma is very generous in allowing little fingers to help themselves to her beautiful display.


My Mum is a superb knitter and crocheter and the blanket below is a lovingly remembered part of my childhood. Parts of it are made from our old baby clothes and blankets which were carefully unraveled and the wool re-used. It's so full of memories and of times past that I can't help but adore it. This isn't a brilliant picture of it a it was draped over the spare bed with a thousand other things piled on top so I could only photograph it from the side. But it really is a marvelous thing, you'll have to trust me on that one.


So you see it was no accident that I badly wanted to learn to crochet and chose a Granny Blanket as my first project. The urge was there deep down for me to follow in my Mothers footsteps. And that really does intrigue me, the way we are influenced by our family and friends, the way in which our own personal style, skills, creativity and passions are influenced and nurtured. I never thought I would end up so much like Mum as we are very different personalities but she has influenced me in so many ways, has given me a love of these creative, homely things. My instinctive passion for crafting, baking, decorating, homemaking, gardening and mothering is very much who I am. It makes me deeply content to know that this is what my life is about, this is what makes me happy :: my homely family life.

April 07, 2008

Down to the sea


Holiday weather, its important for it to be just so. No wet stuff thank you very much, and preferably a little spring sunshine would not go amiss. We woke up on the first morning of our holidays soooo excited and looking forward to a trip to the seaside, but the weather played a sneaky trick on us, bad, naughty weather. The morning air was damp, grey, cold and full of sea mist, quite yucky really. But us being us, we were not deterred and straight after breakfast headed down to the sea. And by about ooooh say ten thirty seven (when my camera pointed at the sky for this photo) looky what we had! Blue sky, cute fluffy white clouds and aeroplane trails, woohoo!! And the weather for the whole two days of our holidays turned out to be fanTAStic. Really, we couldn't have gotten better luck if we had personally ordered it from the Great Man Himself.


This is the local bit of coast near where my family live in Dorset, the bit where I spent the second half of my childhood. Its a small fishing harbour, still relatively unspoilt, sitting at the end of a magnificent  stretch of south coast called Chesil Beach.


The beach here is pebbly rather than sandy, and the sea quite wavy and splashy and deep at the shoreline. So its not your standard sandcastles and gentle paddling type of beach, its a little more rugged and noisy. Yeah, the sound of the waves breaking and then rolling back again on pebbles is definitely noisy, but blissfully so. Love that sound. That, and the seagulls crying overhead, these are my favourite holiday sounds. I lie on my back and watch the clouds scudding across and listen to the waves and the gulls. Fiddle with the smooth pebbles under my fingers and feel so happy to be there.


I love the pebbles on this beach, they are varied and interesting and very tactile. Very pebbly. The Little People and I spent a lovely time up and down the beach with heads bent low searching for "special" pebbles to stash into pockets and carry home as holiday souvenirs. 


After the beach we stroll round the harbour in search of icecream. This is a small, traditional fishing harbour and the boats bob up and down waiting for their turn to be taken out to sea. I absolutely adore harbours. Don't ask me why, but I do. Maybe its the cheerfulness of the colours, the toy-like appearance of the little boats, the clusters of old cottages and layer upon layer of childhood memories.
The first half of my childhood was spent in the grey concrete of London. My Mothers parents lived in Dorset and we spent many school holidays making the journey by train from the city to the sea to visit.
 I vividly remember walking around this very harbour as a small child on holiday, just as my own Little People are now doing when they visit their grandparents in the school holidays. More and more layers of happy childhood memories being created.


It wasn't until  I was ten years old that it was decided we would move from concrete city to country coast and I could not have been happier. I can't remember caring very much for city life, for the scarily  busy roads, the hugely noisy traffic, enormous buildings and lack of greenery. But oh, the Dorset countryside and this particular little stretch of coastline, it was truly a wonderful place to grow up, and to return to once I left home. And my Little People think its a wonderful place to have holidays too. The Best.


March 16, 2008


Yesterday morning I toddled off to our little local station and caught the 6:48am train to London. I had  booked the tickets months ago and was absurdly excited to be going. I waved goodbye to J and the children stood at the door in their pyjamas and had to stop myself skipping off down the street, I could feel the happiness bubbling up, the joy of a days freedom from being a Mummy and a totally self indulgent day of shopping.

It takes 3 hours to get to London by train from where I live and I slept most the way (embarrassingly with my head lolling and my mouth hanging open). I had a rough plan for when I arrived :: first stop Peter Jones at Sloane Square. How I love large department stores,the bigness of them, the huuuge quantity of lovely stuff available to purchase, all set out in beautifully tempting displays. And the thrill of riding up and down the escalators and looking down from on high. Doesn't take much to give me a thrill. 


I stroked the bedlinen, fondled the table linen. Went dutifully to the childrens department to buy gifts. Skipped excitedly around the Easter department and bought twinkly flower lights and fluffy easter chicks. Expensive chocolates in a posh tin for J.

And then the Haberdashery department. Oh my. Some of you may know that I trained in art and textiles and so haberdashery has always had a fascination for me - even the word itself is great don't you think? I have long had a thing for fabrics,threads, ribbons, trims, buttons. But the Yarn thing, well this is a whole new ball game to me. I only learnt to crochet last summer and it has opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities. They had the full selection of Rowan and Debbie Bliss yarns for sale at Peter Jones. Oh, I really did fondle and stroke and gaze in wonderment here!


The stripes below are a table runner, the yarn to add some more zest to the ripple blanket I'm working on right now, and the chicken is well, cute and Eastery.


After my time in Peter Jones I headed off to Marylebone and was stopped in my tracks by these blooms at the entrance to the tube station. Talk about eye candy.


I went to Marelybone Hight Street to visit the Conran shop and Cath Kidston's shop. Both shops very different and I loved things in each. I bought this from the Conran shop, a rather extravagant and impulsive funky buy but hey, I was in full-on shopping mode!

A hop and a skip down the street to Cath Kidston...first time I have ever been in one of her shops and it was all quite overwhelming. To be totally honest I cannot make my mind up about CK. I don't really go for the vintage thing in my home, I would say my taste is more sort of modern country with a dash of handmade funky thrown in. But I do like these few bits and pieces I bought home - the background fabric is a teatowel.


The main reason I traveled all the way to London  was to visit the Country Living Fair. I have been to this show for the past 2 years  and way back in 1998 when I was newly in business I had a stand there under the Princes Trust umbrella and sold my textile work. So I know the show from both sides, as an exhibitor and a visitor. I have to say I was soooo looking forward to visiting this year but came away a little disappointed. There was a considerable drop in the number of craftspeople exhibiting beautiful, original  handmade items. I was not after Gisela Graham mass produced accessories, or cheap shabby chic stuff and there was an awful lot of that there. I still thoroughly enjoyed myself though and I did buy a beautiful handmade necklace made with Venetian glass beads for myself.
And I will continue to get excited when the latest edition of Country Living magazine plonks through my letter box, I still love that day each month no matter what.