There’s a new place ripe to visit: No. 7 Hammersmith Terrace, once the home of printer Emery Walker has just been re-opened to the pubic and proudly boasts the most complete and authentic Arts & Crafts interiors in the UK. Delights include hand blocked Morris & Co Wallpaper, a veritable smorgasbord of textiles and authentic Philip Webb furniture. Deep sigh..few houses in the world have original Morris & Co wallpaper on every floor in nearly every room…but this one does.
Walker was a key member of many of the organisations that embraced the ideals of the Arts and Crafts Movement and as such was a close friend and mentor to William Morris.
His house has just undergone an eighteen month renovation – during the process all sorts of delicious discoveries were made like letters from Rudyard Kipling used as book marks and spectacles belonging to Morris with cuttings of his hair in a desk drawer. It is a living and breathing time capsule.
Could be my new favourite place in London…
Laters, Kate x
It was pure fluke we arranged a holiday in Hastings at the exact time of their 1066 celebrations to mark 950 years since the famous battle which changed English history.
The enactment put on by English Heritage was epic, both in terms of scale and quality: The sheer attention to detail was a joy to behold with every costume cared for down to the last buttonhole.
Running up to the battlefield was a row of shops to supply us and any soldiers with their daily needs: boar hides, leather satchels, knives, jewellery, bone needles, hand loomed blankets, buckles and beer all hewn and authentically made so that seeing enactors interacting genuinely felt like a step back in time.
On either side of the battlefield were the camps of the Normans and Saxons, true living and breathing hives of activity.
From cooking food and tending livestock to weaving and making music.
The day was packed with individual events, including a falconry show. This is the closest I’ve ever got to a real golden eagle.
And so the battle began..
(The irony of the jester watching on..)
It was fabulous!
Laters, Kate x
Shopping in Brighton is a smorgasbord of instant gratification.
I found my Vintage 501’s at Dirty Harrys on Sydney Road..great selection, impeccable service..and all 3 pairs (!) (one shorter to roll, one in dark navy *rather lush* and one long pair)..came to the grand sum of £35!
My favourite place for lunch or High Tea..not posh, just warm, genuine and eccentric.
Can I go again?
Laters, Kate x
Every now and then it’s good to let the music stop..which is what we’ve done for the last 4 days. Miles away from the whirling, high energy, high pressure of London we escaped with the kids and three other families to a Feather Down farm just outside Oxford to cook on wood burning stoves, chase errant chickens and drink copious amounts of wine….
Each family had their own tent on the side of a forested hill (or ‘mountain’ according to the kids) looking out over the lush, green fields of England..
The tents were fabulous – (this really was glamping with a capital ‘G)’..all rustic with purpose, without being plastic-basic..and apart from food, everything was provided..although even food could be bought or ordered in advance from the on-site honesty shop.
I’m still in love with this candlestick chandelier hung from a piece of wood..
And this coffee grinder, complete with beans..
We thought the kids would fight over who slept on the top bunk..
But they were more interested in the cupboard bed!
(Probably a wise choice – on our very first night, there was an almighty thunderstorm which even managed to blow the ash pan off our internal wood burner’s chimney..those in the cupboard with it’s wooden roof never so much as stirred..)
The view out…
Next to each tent we all had our very own chickens that the children had to keep fed and watered and could check for eggs for our own consumption..
There was no electricity..making the morning brekkie..
Not having to cater for every element of camping meant there was room in the car for extras..like my basil plant – how London can you get?!
The time just flew – between teaching the girls to make Makrame and friendship bracelets..
To checking the chickens for eggs at the main paddock…and being sure to keep the goats and sheep in…not that we always managed it..and then it was a drama trying to catch them and herd them back in!..
On Saturday morning we did a tour round the farm led by Farmer Bill and his wife..the tractors were a big hit..
‘Please Bella sit in the wheel so I can take a picture of you to show how large the wheel is..’
At least Charlie was a bit more obliging..
I’ve got a brand new combine harvester an I’ll give you the key!
Learning about sheep..
What the kids loved most was the freedom..they spent hours off exploring or on this mud slide going up and down..
In the evenings we gathered around the campfire, making music, singing songs and roasting marshmallows.
And that’s only half of it..
Laters, Kate x
I had that typical middle-class adult dilemma this week – is it kitsch that my kids favourite activity is shopping? As soon as I mention it, I see the bright gleam in their eyes, the excitement..the quickening heartbeat and I know it has them in it’s tight, materialistic jaw..
We had to step into the lion’s lair this week to re-stock on socks and pants for school. But I went attempting a new regime..
I told them exactly what I was going to buy. Then anything over had to come out of their pocket money/christmas money/birthday money which they had to have in cash..no loans. Anything big and desirable went on birthday (not long till Charlie’s) or Christmas list.
The hardest thing is that I have to stick to the plan too – there’s lots of stuff I’d love to buy them. But what message does that give? I limited the extra’s to looking for a top for Charlie and a dress for Bella, both for Easter Sunday when we’re seeing relatives.
I know that if I think back through the mists of time, I can still remember that feeling of stepping into the equivalent of a sweetie shop – the seduction of it. And too often, when dealing with kids, you look at a situation through the knowing eyes of an adult, forgetting the journey it took to get there. It can’t be skipped just because you know the answer.
However, both my children have a fair amount to learn..money burns a hole in their pockets and the magpie tendencies are strong..
Though Charlie did boost his cash reserve by eating a clam. Bella refused. But it was their choice.
Naturally, they blew everything they had – Bella on stationary, Charlie on a puzzle toy and a hat..
We found him a brilliant top in Next for Easter – £14.99 and it looks like something by Ralph Lauren, and is beautifully lined in grey marl. He wanted to wear it straight away..the resulting mash-up amply demonstrates the preppy look his mother would love him to embrace..and the secret clubber within..
Bella bought a dress from Marks and Spencer that fluttered her mother’s heart..black with a peter pan collar. I’ll take a picture on Sunday.
Of course now, for the lesson to be fully learnt, having blown all their money, I have to take them shopping again so they can know what it’s like to want something and not be able to buy it. That big gulf between need and want. That special emotion that can be one of the world’s best motivators…you want it, you earn it..you save for it. You spend it on what you really want, not the fluff inbetween..learn the difference between the diamonds and the fools gold…you want more? Find a way..work hard..make it happen.
Laters, Kate x
On Sunday we took a family trip down the Thames to Greenwich. Growing up in London the kids have no idea how lucky they are..we live 30 minutes from Waterloo, which is a short stroll from the London Eye, which sits over the pier where you catch the boat..
Just opposite the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben..
Charlie opted for a outfit of utility chic. Honestly, he looked like a road sweeper.
The boat journey down the Thames is magical, from the drama of Shakespeare’s Globe and Tower Bridge, to the violence of the Tower of London and the old warship, HMS Belfast. It’s a spectacle. Unfortunately for us, it was all seen behind rain splattered glass as the heavens well and truly opened. Although by the time we reached our destination, the World Heritage Site of Greenwich, the sun popped out, if only for a minute..
Greenwich is a remarkable place to visit: There’s the Royal Observatory and the Meridian Line to hop over, The Cutty Sark, the Old Royal Naval College all seeped in romantic, baroque architecture..but we were there for a reason..
To see Against Captain’s orders at the National Maritime Museum, a groundbreaking theatre experience bridging the gap between museums and drama, thought up by the one and only Punchdrunk Enrichment, stars of immersive, interactive theatre.
The golden laws of interactive theatre mean I’m sworn to secrecy and therefore can’t tell you very much…except this is how it starts – and it’s not a stage set – you sit in the boats wearing life-jackets…before you are led away into a fantasy world where you are very much part of the fast-paced action in a behind the scenes experience in the deep, dark bowels of the museum. It’s brilliant, innovative..and an experience I know the kids will remember for a long, long time. It’s designed for children aged 6-12..and you don’t want to take any younger – it’s pretty heart racing…you’ll find little hands reaching out to find yours! Performances continue till the 31 of August..but take note: they do an adults version as well in an after-hours exclusive…if you can..GO!
Then it was off for lunch and wandering through Greenwich Market..yet another reason to visit…
Passing the Cutty Sark..
Before stopping at the nostalgic Hardy’s sweet shop to spend pocket money. I made Charlie buy popping candy..
Neither he nor Bella had tried it before..
I think it was a success..
Then it was time to run for the return boat home, before the storm clouds caught us..
Laters, Kate x
How to write about Savage Beauty? Can McQueen be captured in an Exhibition..or in the limited bubble of a post? The answer is no, but one has to try. So I’m writing this with the sound track to Schindler’s list playing in the background – it’s an earworm from the exhibition I’ll carry in my heart for a long time…and has made me, for the first time in over ten years, order a piece of violin music just so I can play it myself, softly at night with the back door open..
Cleverly, rather than chronological, the exhibition is grouped in thematic moods: Romantic gothic, Plato’s Atlantic, Highland..each room with it’s own presence: feathery oily gloss, crow black, cloudy foxed mirrors, decadent gilt, hospital white, all dripping quietly with the dark.
Wandering, discovering, uncovering the rooms is like being lead through the Minotaur’s labyrinth in a time chopped and spun dream.
(All photos from Google..no cameras are allowed inside the exhibition)
The Cabinet of Curiosities at the centre is the living brain with flashing synapses and pulsing electricity: Barnacle breasted leather, swooping scooping skirts, spit and saw dust, rich blood reds, spruced and scarred, gossamer held on wings, flammable laughs, chicken feathers in a slaughter house, murmurs, whispers, the glint of gold, leather and bones that wink, the haunting and the haunted. We accept these creations for the sculptures they are, the devolution, destruction, superb craftsmanship and extraordinary vision often without thought for the true effort they took….the room that followed broke my heart.
Go without expectations and you will find Lee, the insecure anti-hero leading the pack, looking inside and always expecting the worst, his discomfort then projected outwards into pure magical McQueen creative gold.
Walking out was a strange journey back into reality.
Laters, Kate x
If at heart you’re an emotional scientist when it comes to clothes, you’ll find it harder than the coating of Apollo 13 to resist the temptation of a vintage car boot..
The South Bank Vintage Classic Car Boot took place this weekend in London and was the bright, sunlit intermission on a rather cold, grey, damp couple of days. It’s a wicked combination of vintage cars..and everything else besides..go for a wander..go for a rummage..you never know what delights you’ll find..
One of which was Julie from Vintageattitude with her own stall! She always has such inventive, creative offerings..dog coats on the table (check out that tablecloth!), pom pom lampshades..and my personal favourite..hanging at the back..summer jackets made from vintage tableclothes..genius.
(A close up of her rather fabulous skirt. So true…I love her style.)
I want this fridge..
This is the poshest buggy I have ever seen..it converts into a tricycle when the baby converts to a toddler..and then hopefully a little hatchback..and then maybe a small maisonette??
This guys coat was made from a GI bag..Buster’s pretty cool too..
Such joy…I often feel that modern offerings are just the plastic parody of the past – it’s so much better to liberate the originals and I came away with bulging bags..but more on that in another post..
Laters, Kate x