Let’s be honest. This year Christmas is going to be different – so I think the only way is to go whole hog and make it more so. Partly due to the amount of box sets we’ve managed to inhale, but also just because I fancy it, it’s been decreed that in this hovel, Boxing Day will be a day of reading and minimal electricity (think candles and open fires. maybe the odd sheepskin. I read somewhere that a Scandi country (couldn’t tell you which one) gives books as presents on Christmas Eve, to be read on Christmas Day. This, for me, is a bit of an infringement on Christmas Day, a bit too holy on the national day of greed and gluttony. But the day after? Absolutely bloody perfect.
So each person has to buy one book for another person at the Christmas table. What joy!
Which is not to say Christmas lunch will have this many people, more – how do you choose? This is quite frankly, a little slice of opt out heaven.
Laters, Kate x
I have a few creative projects on the go – This is the first one that’s come to fruition – and it starts with a lockdown story that began roughly eleven years ago……
A pregnant infertility survivor and a pro natural birth obstetrics consultant at a high risk pregnancy unit meet to discuss a birth plan. The infertility survivor would like a c-section; she now has a lack of trust in herself and wants to hand over responsibility to the doctors. The consultant wants to convince her to believe in herself and her innate capabilities. The infertility survivor hands over a print out of poems, describing the pain of her infertile years and the agony of her recurrent miscarriages. They talk. The consultant even uses two of the poems in a book she’s publishing. The infertility survivor has a successful c-section…..and my son Charlie is born.
Over a decade later, in lockdown, the Consultant, Dr Susan Bewley, finds my poems again and gets in contact. The poems are pulled out of a drawer and we agree that they are still as relevant today as they were all those years ago. So, with the help from Dr Bewley, they’ve been edited into a book….I took the decision that as they were poetry, they’d never get published down normal routes. So today, Songs For My Unborn Children has been self-published via Amazon and now they’re available to buy!
Doing it this way also means I get a say in all the art work, from the cover to the supporting instagram account.
So they’re out in the big wide world: Part memoir, all poetry, they cover the complete arc of infertility, from the pain of waiting, the grief of miscarriage to hospital visits, treatments, IVF, and finally the joy of a successful birth.
In the foreword, Dr Bewley writes:
‘Years ago, I was privileged to be given an early version of Songs to my Unborn Child from Kate during the course of her pregnancy, and to be allowed to use some for a book on Reproductive Ageing. She opened my eyes to the long, complex shadow that infertility, miscarriage and medicalised conception cast way beyond the immediate experiences. Doctors don’t bring ‘meaning’ to our everyday routines that clash with each patient’s exquisite vulnerability; it’s not a strong part of our skill set. But Kate provides another route to compassionate understanding. Few artists can paint pain, but this poetess succinctly describes the emotional roller coaster of suffering, endurance and recovery that will resonate for women who’ve experienced it, and induce empathy from those who haven’t. She gives voice to Everywoman’s shame and taboos. Even though she was one of the lucky ones for whom IVF did work, for most it does not. Every million cute IVF babies celebrated in the news and advertisements are accompanied by another several millions of futile cycles, chemical pregnancies, miscarriages and wounded souls. And emptier pockets. Although a proud mother now, Kate wears her scars. She doesn’t gloat or forget her trauma, or the ‘sisters in suffering’ who follow her. They might, or might not, take a similar journey to eventual peace but will recognize themselves. Read, cry, learn, repeat.’
Yep. It made me weep.
Songs is divided into five sections: Infertility, Miscarriage and IVF failure, Treatment, Afterwards and Pregnancy. It is ultimately a success story, but I hope the journey and the emotions will be recognised by all who have or who are walking this terrible path.
Please share, pass on to someone they might help, if you can’t buy – follow, anything to help get the word out, and I will be eternally grateful.
A big day.
Laters, Kate x
It’s taken longer than I ever anticipated, but I’ve finally finished the design for the pod; there’s such a freedom to be able to design something for yourself, but when, barring council restrictions and budget, the sky is the limit, choices can be overwhelming. But bit by bit, by concentrating on what is allowed and what would benefit the space available, I think I’ve got there. The main inspiration is this garden studio above – I love the simple shape, but there’s also beautiful and subtle detailing that suitably elevates and adds vital character.
I would love to have the more elongated, pagoda style roof, but the width of our garden won’t allow it. But there will be a hint. Unlike the inspiration, we will have a green roof and I hope to encourage plants both to grow up and hang down. The driving consideration behind the design is because we don’t have a panoramic view to frame, why not go with private, enclosed, quiet and chapel like? A secret, hidden space for gently moving light and contemplation. So the doors will be Georgian panels, the overhang shaded and the design understated.
The plan is for planting to cover and encroach, from the sides, from above, from below and even inside the overhang, to create a blur between garden and building.
The overhang will also protect from the sun and act as a privacy screen. In ours will be fitted the salvaged stained glass panels, to cast colours and patterns and draw people out.
The whole building will be painted a bronzey brown as a foil to the plants and to visually push it back into it’s environment.
The overhang will be wide enough to contain a swing chair positioned to catch the last of the evening light. And if space allows, I would love a dramatic porch light.
Now for the inside….
Laters, Kate x
I’ve looked at all sorts for a focal light for the garden studio. The obvious choice was something large and rustic, like these amazing Moroccan shades.
Or embrace the macrame.
This one from IKEA is lush.
The final choice was a step away from obvious, a return to vintage and celebrates the clean lines of the fifties.
Found on ebay, this understated beauty catches the eye without dominating the small space, and its age injects soul and timelessness.
Decision, tick. Next one…
Laters, Kate x
Ebay is not a safe place for me at the best of times, but now with an official project – let me write that again with capital, authoritative letters – Official Project – as my cover, it is very dangerous; our kitchen is beginning to look like a reclamation yard. But oh, the pleasure! These are the stained glass panels I have snaffled – genuine Victorian, everything between £50 – £60 (which I think is good value, though they do need work). I have visions of them over the doors, at the back of the pod, even in the apex space between the roof. Who knows where their final resting place/places will be, but I am loving the colours – the pale pinks, the greens and then the contrast of the strong blues and reds. I can imagine sitting on something comfy with a cup of tea, looking at the garden, with the late afternoon light sliding through making patterns on the floor. The real bonus was finding painted centres as well – look! A duck!!
(little cough..I have three of these…all slightly different. All insanely gorgeous)
This is possibly my favourite – a caterpillar! Such a great metaphor for life, the universe and everything…
Little glowing bits of handmade, re-cycled, re-loved heaven.
Now for the lights…..hehe
Laters, Kate x
I’m not here. I’m in a car, driving to Bristol, genuinely quite excited about experiencing a motorway again and moving wider than a 2 mile circle from the house. We’re emptying The Husband’s work flat as he’s going to be in London till at least Christmas; Every cloud. The plan is to make a round trip in a day – normally a ticket to hell, but all of that has been subtly reframed by the thought of travelling at speed, the prospect of a horizon and the promise of new vistas. Aren’t I the lucky one? These pictures were taken today – Sunday afternoon has become a potter time for me – projects to plan, things to do. And this represents the first time I’ve tried to re-make candles.
The first thing was to get rid of the bits of wax left at the end of all the finished candles. I found the best way was to pour in boiling water, which melted the wax, making it rise to the surface to create a wax plug that was then easy to remove.
My eclectic collection of containers, from tins to pots to old candle jars.
The wicks I ordered very cheaply from Ebay.
And stuck down with a dab of glue from a handy glue gun.
This was the super candle that inspired the re-make – a winter candle from the White Company with it’s gorgeous smell that died leaving lots of wax. I melted down in a pyrex bowl over a saucepan of boiling water. Once the lump of it became soft, I cut it up into smaller bits to speed up the melt. I also added all the remnants of the other candles, because why not? Once everythings melted it’s possible to add various essential oils. As the kitchen already smelt like a tart’s boudoir, I refrained.
Pouring in the liquid wax is not the easiest thing. I recommend a funnel. Then I improvised with tin foil to keep the wicks upright and central.
Highly satisfying and highly recommended.
Laters, Kate x
The title is breakfast, but the truth is I am not a breakfast person – a cup of tea to wet the whistle and I’m good to go. Breakfast for me comes at 11 o’clock, but whilst I know the time I want it, it’s taken me a long time to discover what I want…
These things have made all the difference: Chia seeds. I remember having my first helping in a hyped up cafe where the portions were small, the prices were high and the vintage was new – in this country we like to charge extra for concepts, ideas and ambience, even when the ideas are copied.
It didn’t take long to find the recipe. Welcome to my fridge coconut milk.
To make one kilner jar – or any other storage vessel – fill a quarter with chia seeds, top to the top with coconut milk and give a good shake. Some recipes then add honey or other sweetness – personally, I don’t need this.
Which ends up something like this: Mum’s frogspawn. The benefit of which is nobody else touches it.
Twenty four hours in the fridge and it’s thick, gooey and swollen.
Perfect with muesli, a dash of coconut milk and fresh raspberries.
I would like to say this is on my desk now. But it’s not 11 o’clock.
Think of me then.
Laters, Kate x
I’m not sure if we’re in lockdown in London any more, maybe it’s a strange transition period, like wondering what to wear between seasons? Because, despite the rhetoric, nothing has really changed for us; we’re still spending the majority of time in the house or garden.
But it gives me the time to salute some of my heroes of the past couple of months: The birds…their activity – the magpies that make me laugh, their song – we have a particularly vocal blackbird, their curiosity – yes, I’m speaking to you, unafraid Robin who watches me just a foot away when I’m gardening, the stories they tell – I’m gazing at nearly arrived swallows from my desk heralding the start of summer, and just their continual zest for life: nothing fazes them.
This post celebrates the inventive, simple but attractive ways we can introduce more of their joy into our lives.
(All pics Pinterest)
Which will hopefully lay down strong foundations to repay their gift and help them through the colder winter months.
A circle of life I value.
Laters, Kate x
I think today is meant to be a day of celebration – we are officially out of strict lockdown in London, except nobody knows quite what that means. I read today that you can have a conversation with one person you know outside, but not meet my mother. Five year olds in a class will have to maintain a 2 metre distance when they go back in June – if they go back, and the one I love – I can drive a car with another stranger, if the windows are down! My delight is the garden centres re-opening; I have plans for window boxes and filler plants I need. This week my roses started to bloom! And with the air so clear at the moment, if the back door is open, even when walking down the staircase to the kitchen, I can smell them.
Blasting the roses with water has worked a treat re the aphids – thank you! A very eco friendly solution. And it has the added bonus of rainbows when the sun is out.
One of my favourite combinations – this pink rose against the dark leaves of the smoke bush.
There were some casualties from the gale like winds of the past few days; the trachelospermem jasminoides (hark me!), the full grown version of the comb-over tree, has been pulled off it’s wall, and the wind did it’s best to destroy my seedlings, sending the ones in the egg box flying. I thought they were goners.
But I found the survivors, replanted, and they’re now in my study, by the window, being regularly watered from an re-used wine bottle, and are quite frankly thriving. The only problem is I had two varieties of plant, one in the lid, one in the main section..and now they’re all muddled. But I’m sure time will tell…as it always does.
Laters, Kate x
With the lockdown starting to fray, we wanted the kids to experience the stillness of London before it’s officially bubbling again, so we biked through the virtually empty roads all the way to Trafalgar Square, a 20 km round route (I have saddle arse to prove it). The only thing to interrupt our peace were the all the gear, no fear mamil brigade, the blinkers of self-interest firmly down. I saw three almost accidents, their speed seemingly taking precedent over a slower decision maker ahead. Given the freedom of the roads, the nature of the situation, it felt greedy and uncalled for.
Trafalgar Square felt like a movie set from a post apocalyptical film. It wasn’t just that there were no people there, the pigeons had left as well.
The weather wasn’t great, so I painted inside. Since completing Carla Sonheim’s online class on flower portraits, I’ve become obsessed with painting all things plant.
I think I want to do a proper painting, a large one: The dark filtered light down below, the open sky above.
Can’t for the life of me think what it represents…
Laters, Kate x