Category: Books

Recycled wood x

I love books.

(All pics Pinterest)

But I hate the back-to-front book thing. Though it works sparklingly well as a visual metaphor for everything that is tragic about our modern culture.


And breathe.

Laters, Kate x

Books for thought..

So bookcases are now a ‘thing’? Excuse me now whilst I suppress my inner laughter.

Sometimes I think the puppetmasters of materialism actually believe their own hype.  Did they really think we’d give away our books in favour of cloud storage?

‘They get rid of books.  We charge them again for ibooks.  Then we gloss the pintrest pictures and persuade them bookcases are it…it’s a money making winner!’

The truth? People and interiors need the soul of books, holidays need the ease of kindles.  And parents, at home with children need to know that Alexa can read your kindle books aloud.  Whilst I’m writing this, Percy Jackson is entertaining my kids downstairs. Now that’s a win win.


Laters, Kate x

Flashbulb x


Is it too late for New Years resolutions? The dust has finally settled and now I know what I’d like to do…keep a sketch book.  I have a words/ideas book (which apparently is the classic sign of an introvert – who knew?) to keep treasures like assonance and sibilance that otherwise would float away.  But a book of dabblings and drawings? If this Blog is a collection of thoughts and sources of inspiration, then a sketchbook would be those thoughts made physical. I think it’s a calling….

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(All pictures not mine but from Pinterest)

Laters, after an arty online shop for supplies, Kate x

A Girl Called Jack x


Jack Monroe is my latest hero.  I discovered her whilst painting the hall..the joy of decorating is having an ipad close to hand listening to  iplayer doing it’s thing.  Radio 4 made a drama from her life, basing it around her love of cooking and her relationship with her Grandmother: Two things that float my boat – it inspired me to seek out her cook book.


Jack started by writing, in her own time, a local political commentary blog.  Then she had to give up her career when she became a single mum and her wage couldn’t extend to childcare.  The only solution was benefits and a mere £10 a week for food for the two of them. Her blog ‘Cooking on a Bootstrap’ was a consequence of that constraint, written to share the recipes she magically managed to produce…which then turned into her own cookbook.


Being a single parent meant lack of time as well as a lack of resources translates into recipes that are both speedy and simple.  There’s no frills or extravagant ingredients, instead she’s re-connected the umbilical cord highlighting that fantastic, nutritious food doesn’t need an overflowing handmade Devol larder and a certificate in corden bleu cookery.

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(The vegetarian meals are awesome)


Jack believes that in order to tackle food poverty and a culture of convenience/microwave meals with dubious ingredients then cooking at home needs to be present on a less glossy, less sexy, less intimidating and more accessible way, which then has the rollover benefit of both spending less and reducing waste. Win win.


She makes you think about how you cook, why you cook..and how careless we are. The bottom line is we all need to care more.

I love her and I love her book.

Laters, Kate x

Bohemian Minimalist?


I’ve been reading Bea Johnson’s book ‘Zero Waste Home’ with interest – it’s fair to say it’s an eye opener.  Whilst there’s no doubt she’s taken her chosen style of living to an extreme (her 4 member family produce just one large jar of rubbish a year)..( I confess that’s less than we manage in a day) and despite the fact the book is written for the American market, there’s no denying the hidden gold between the pages…..she genuinely believes that in our fast-paced, modern world we’ve disconnected from the true reality of our commercialism and the consequences  of our voracious, unstoppable actions.  By shining a light on something as simple as rubbish she aims to change people’s attitudes in a broader, rippling sense..and make a real difference both to the individual and the planet. Impressive ambitions.


The book reminds me of an article I read in the Times by Caitlin Moran where she admitted that as a poor person she was far more creative: No money to buy it equalled make it or fix it. But now with success, she just throws money at the problem…we think because we can have it all, we should have it all. We even deserve to have it all.


Bea thinks differently: She likes to simplify life right down to needs not wants, equalling less hassle, less waste..less stuff.


And that’s where she and I differ.  I understand the simplicity of a clutter free, simplified life…but clutter and old stuff are fundamental to my personal lifeblood.  All these pics represent interiors I aspire to with their sense of timeless style and soft edges.

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A house without books? Soulless.


No artworks and bedspreads?


(All pics Pinterest)

Or knick knacks and beautiful rugs? It would break my little heart.

But I think there are grey areas where we overlap. And I’d really like to explore her world in little steps..doing something different every month.  Watch this space…

Laters, Kate x

Bea Johnson x


Anyone else read the article in the Times yeesterday about Bea (pronounced ‘Baya’)  Johnson and her zero waste lifestyle? The picture above represents the amount of waste her family have accumulated over a year…it’s an eye opener..


She’s been living this way since 2008..and it doesn’t make her a crusty hippy.


Her (and her family’s) wardrobe are small enough to fit into carry-on suitcases…which they pack, wheel away – and then their house is rented out to pay for their holidays.


But a small wardrobe doesn’t mean she doesn’t have style.


It’s just that they’ve made choices about what they really need against what society and big companies want them to need.

I think I’m going to have to read her book…


Laters, Kate x

Rapture x


Once upon a time, a long time ago before the cult of celebrity was even a flash of a lightbulb, there were myths and fairy tales weaving complex ficitonalised versions of life with an extra sprinkle of magic.


Move forward hundreds of years to the Viktor and Rolf Fairy Tales, fresh from the minds of the avant garde fashion greats..


And beautifully illustrated by them as well..

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It’s like a dew-drop turned into a telescope with the lens pointed at a whole new very delicious..and the perfect stocking present for Bella…as I get to read it too…


Laters, Kate x

Chutney and Oat Cakes..


The joy that is Creative Coffee – wholesome and happy with stunning aromas and rich rewards, like the incredible (honestly, some of the best I’ve tasted.Ever) mango chutney and melt in your mouth oat cakes (why haven’t I made these babies before??).


I took away two things from the session:

1. To invest in a pan like Sophy’s (she’s kindly sent me a link) which not only holds an extraordinary amount but also has delights such as a spout for pouring and an extra large handle.  Genius.

2. To buy the book by Annie Rigg we often use at Creative Coffee.


The recipes make your mouth water just reading them and – just as good – always work.


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I’m thinking jars of spiced cranberry with edible glitter as the perfect cupboard gift for unexpected gifts this Christmas….

Laters, Kate x

The Book Barge..


Sarah Henshaw, a modern day heroine and one of life’s great dreamers proves that life is still full of endless possibilities…if only we dare to live them…

sarah henshaw, books, london, entertainment, journalist, reporter, press, lethal weapon, danny glover, reading, boat, book barge,
Because her words are far more relevant than anything I could write, I’ve cut and pasted this article in its totality, but you can find the original words and all info here.
I remember quite clearly the first time I realised I might be in the wrong job.I was working as an entertainment journalist in London and, on this particular morning I was at a press junket to interview Lethal Weapon star Danny Glover.There was a long queue of journalists ahead of me so I took a book out of my bag and passed the time reading.When my interview started Danny quickly seemed bored and called his assistant over.After a brief exchange he turned back to me. “I hope you don’t mind,” he apologised, “but I’m very tired. I’m just going to stretch out on the floor for a few minutes and nap. You can stay here. We’ll resume the interview when I awake.”With that he pushed his chair aside and adopted a foetal position by my handbag.I squirmed awkwardly for several minutes, not quite sure where to look or what to do. “Oh, I should carry on with your book,” his assistant said helpfully. I didn’t need further encouragement.Anything with the power to take me away from a lightly snoring actor, a job I had no talent for and a city that overwhelmed me had my vote of confidence. I opened it and got lost.The idea for a black and cream book-flogging canal boat came a year later at the end of 2008.

Anything with the power to take me away from a lightly snoring actor, a job I had no talent for and a city that overwhelmed me had my vote of confidence

Sarah Henshaw

By then I’d quit London and planned to move back to the Midlands with my boyfriend Stu.He was about to retrain as a joiner and I had promised to support him financially while he studied. That was easier said than done.Months later, frustrated by a string of unsuccessful media applications, I hit upon the idea of creating my own job – a dream job. I would sell books… from a boat.I knew nothing about book selling – nor boats. I found Joseph, the craft that became The Book Barge, on Google.It was the first narrowboat I viewed and I bought it immediately with a £25,000 loan from my parents. My petitions to the banks had been turned down frequently and firmly.Despite my naivety business was initially brisk. Moored at Barton Marina in Staffordshire my shop stocked a decent range of new and secondhand literature and held regular bookish events, which were well-attended.This didn’t last. My appalling inexperience, coupled with price competition from online and supermarket retailers, meant that just two years later the shop was facing closure.
book barge
Saddled with guilt and debt, I split up with my boyfriend and moved on to the boat.Tears obscuring all their titles I looked at my shelves of books and wondered how they could ever get me out of this new mess. The solution – in its simplicity – surprised even me.I set off with the boat from its permanent mooring immediately, giving myself six months to save it as well as a vestige of self-respect.I put myself entirely in the customers’ hands as I chugged a nervous figure-of-eight route around the entire country and bartered away my stock. The idea of swapping books instead of selling them made sense.Since buying the boat all domestic comforts (including toilet, shower, gas hob, bed and fridge) had been ripped out to bed, breakfast and a packed lunch.In London a gentleman offered a month’s worth of food from Sainsbury’s delivered straight to the boat, redeeming the value of his till receipt in secondhand books.In less populated places it proved harder to negotiate. Here I would often rely on fellow boaters for the use of their showers or for occasional towpath-foraged delicacies, including a particularly memorable wild flower syrup cake.By June of that year The Book Barge had attracted the interest of the national press.While I was talking to a journalist who came aboard in Hackney one afternoon a customer interrupted by making a scissors movement with her fingers.She gestured to the whiteboard hanging over my desk upon which I listed the items I needed each day and for which I was prepared to sacrifice free stock. “The haircut?” she offered.The journalist folded his arms and raised an eyebrow expectantly. “S-s-sure,” I stuttered and fetched a towel to put over my shoulders.Now I’ve been going to the same salon for years. I don’t generally let strangers hack away at it with a pair of paper-scissors, let alone untrained strangers in the middle of a busy bookshop.

It took 10 minutes. At the end the woman responsible for the un even lengths littering the floor by my ankles grinned broadly.

With that she bagged an £8.99 paperback as payment and walked hastily out. The journalist picked up a guitar and started quietly strumming. I could just about make out the song: You Can’t Always Get What You Want.By October 2011 I had returned to the Midlands having journeyed some 1,000 miles through more than 700 locks. Determined now that I could never let the shop close, I took freelance copywriting shifts to pay off my debts and started working at a high-school library during term-time.I still live aboard. I still allow customers to barter for books as well as buy. But one thing has changed.I’m back with Stu, who has become a pretty decent carpenter.In between fitting a toilet for us, he is renovating a house in a hamlet in the middle of France. The canal runs past it and there’s a book barge-shaped mooring at the bottom of the garden. We found it for sale for just €19,000.Who knows whether we’ll sell any books there but it’s a nice place for the story to end. Or for a new one to begin.
The Bookshop That Floated Away by Sarah Henshaw

It’s always good to know that fairytales really do exist.

Laters, Kate x