frida kahlo

I am not going to say much about this show, but I really felt moved and inspired;  I know that Frida Kahlo has become more commercially visible amongst the wider public, but really this show is about the determination and strength of a young woman who lived with pain, disability and courage to establish herself as one of the most moving and talented artists of the last century.   her impeccable style, which she never failed to uphold is a lasting  legacy ;  this exhibition just strengthens her iconic style  – her adoption of typical and traditional dress was always customised by herself, either by adding layers of lace, petticoats, making her own jewellery,  braiding her hair with fabric and flowers, wrapping beautiful scarves and shawls – her sense of dress is highlighted by the presence of her personal artefacts and clothes.   admittedly there are not enough of her paintings, but this collection and curation is more about her life and her courage and an insight into the pain she always` had to endure.

the exhibition is busy and tickets sell out, so you must book, or if you are a member of the v & a or the museums association, then you can just join the queue.  worth going to see and I notice even young children were fascinated.  it really makes me want to go back to Mexico – not been for a few years, but remember the visit to Kahlo’s house as being one of the highlights of the trip.


we are having amazing hot weather in london – hotter than where we were in spain – I guess its a different type of heat being in the city;  the only drawback is mosquito bites!  they are such a pain.  apparently taking B12 helps ward off mosquitos and eating garlic.   we tried everything, from citronella oil, lavender but i always end up using jungle formula or mosiguard – so much for my natural organic products!  this year i am using avon skin so softly dry spray oil as an aftersun – i had heard that it really keeps the mosquitos at bay . unfortunately i dont have an avon rep (my mother in law used to do this), but you can get it on the internet and its very inexpensive.

for something natural to stop the swelling and itching, try a mixture of german chamomile, lavender and melissa oil – pour a few drops into some almond oil – it really does help.  otherwise good old benadryl and germolene cream definitely does soothe (it depends how natural you want to be).  taking the homeopathic remedy apis is a relief, the problem is you need to travel totally prepared and so your medicine bag becomes heavier than the rest of your luggage.  to go back to homeopathy, i now take a couple of pulsatilla pills as the plane ascends and descends and i find that this definitely helps with the pain in your ears.    high potency arnica is also a great remedy for jet lag. my whole family thinks homeopathy is witchcraft and a placebo, but as i have been homeopathic for over 30 years – i really do believe that it helps, whether it mentally gives you another channel to believe in;  as allopathically I have found that they give you  antibiotics and steroid creams, which help short term, but then the symptoms just come back.  I am not saying don’t take the advice of your doctor, as this can be lifesaving and prevent infection, but for long term answers give the natural method a go.   anyhow, my family still pop the pills when i give it to them, so they must believe in something. recently I had an allergic reaction which brought me out in excema patches all over – I found that the homeopathic remedy nat mur helped – it took me about 3 different remedies to get there –   of course homeopathy depends totally on your personality and how your body and mood responds, so its good to consult a practitioner.   Ainsworth has a great choice of combination remedies for most everyday ailments and their staff really help you with your problems and can advise too.

i have always seen carole ingram as a homeopath and caroline harper, who does these introductory courses in basic homeopathy – I have also found her very compassionate and really wants to help find the right remedy to get you back on the road.

coloured roof tiles

have only been once to stay in the beautiful hotel ‘the colombe d’or’ – expensive, but it was a very special birthday treat;  I absolutely loved these coloured roof tiles at the colombe d’or – and also the tiles that framed the bottom of the walls and stairs. it was such an inspiring place – i couldn’t stay still or put my camera down…….
you can simply add colour to a bathroom or kitchen by laying a beautiful floor with encaustic floor tiles. Encaustic floor tiles are coloured with oxides while the design is being formed, which gives a soft merging of colour, quite classical and antique in finish. The colours are muted, yet still give you lovely colours without being too bright. you can buy encaustic tiles from Fired Earth ,Alhambra home, Bert and May and Terra Firma tiles.  all over andalucia there are many lovely tiled floors and work surfaces with the rich colours of ochre and russett – harking back to the moorish empire.

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spain is renowned for its ham, olive oil, sherry and shoes……. i love the multicoloured espadrilles, though its getting harder and harder to find the ones without heels. cadiz seems to have a bigger choice of espadrilles and flamenco shoes, but like all cities they are slowly modernising everything – including the lovely old fruit and fish market – but at least it still exists. i love the cobbled entrance of our hallway, its dating from the 12C .


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bird cages

I love bird cages, there is something calming about them, although in reality they say the contrary, as they capture birds. Paint the wooden bird cages in bright colours and add as a feature to a dull corner of a room or hang from the branch of a tree.  you can plant a plain old wire one with seeds or a plant and watch it bloom.


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i love unusual vessels for plants in gardens – i have trugs and crates to house my pots on my balcony – you can pick lots of these things up at kemptom market.  i love the trolley at petersham nurseries stacked with plants.

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we are on our annual family holiday in Vejer and its not as hot as usual as we are a little bit earlier in the year;  also, its strangely hotter in the UK than here in andalucia.  however I always think that  the best time to go to the beach in spain is after 4pm – the sun is gentler and  you can usually  sunbathe right up til 8pm, then stay for sunset dinner on the beach.

here are a few of my favourite beaches in andalucia – bear in mind that all beaches in July and August are much busier, lots of spanish families with their casitas and picnics:

El Palmar – popular for surfing in the winter and the local beach to our village of Vejer de la Fronterra;   its quite a long beach and the waves can be strong, but the sea is fresh and exhilarating.  we tend to go to the far left of the beach by the chiringuito Guruguru, which is a little bit quieter.   Zahora, hidden away, this natural beach is within a bay, so a bit more sheltered than the wider open beaches and is perfect for children;  however, when the tide goes out, its very shallow with lots of rocks, but this beach is shorter and has been described as though you were in the caribean;  cabo de Trafalgar, is the famous beach from the battle of Trafalgar, totally unspoilt with nothing built on it – lots of kite surfers feequent this beach when the conditions are right for surfing – a finer sand its completely unspoilt and probably my favourite, especially out of the busy July and August months;   Zahara de los Atunes is a  fishing village by the sea with a long windswept rugged beach, popular in the summer with tourists – there is a lovely bit by the old town and a long stretch further down towards the newer apartments;  we like to eat in the hotel Don antonio and then sit on that part of the beach after;  Canos de la Meca is  a smaller hippy beach, again a bit sheltered, but very busy in the summer – only worth going to out of the busy august period;  the far end is rugged with cliff tops but also attracts nudists and is my choice.  Conil is more built up than the other beaches, but has a fantastic long wide beach and the sea is perfect for wave jumping – again, the end nearest Vejer has a bridge that takes you to a wilder non built up part, but the other end has 2 fantastic eating places right onto the beach, which is what drew us to this town in the beginning;   Bolonia is a great beach with the added attraction of some Roman ruins, dunes and the odd cow or horse stepping out on the seafront; – if you go left its quieter with cafes on the cliff top, right are the ruins.  Tarifa is hip, young and a magnet for windsurfing and kite surfers, but also has the wonderful dunes nearby;  between Tarifa and the dunes is the beach Valdequeros, which has a fun beach bar;  La Barossa has more hotels around, more built up, but again a fabulous long beach and apparently quite sheltered when there is a the levante wind (hot winds from the sahara);  Cadiz has a city beach and a beach on the causeway road into the city – you also have the added bonus of the fruit and food market and the lovely old town to ramble around.  San Lucar de la Barrameda is an old fishing village by the sea, famed for its seafood – its one of our favourite towns in spain – not at all trendy, just full of locals from jerez and seville searching for the famous prawns.  Seek Bajo de Guia and eat at casa Bigote – classic traditional food that is always of a high quality.

night of the candles

this weekend in vejer de la fronterra is the  ‘noches de velas’  – an amazing fete of hanging hundreds of candles around the streets of the old town and especially in the main square, plaza espana – accompanied by a group of singers sat in the middle of the candles.   its always a  splendid sight, though marred by the hundreds of visitors visiting the town to catch the atmosphere – all the street lights will be turned off, so the town will look romantically medieval.   its definitely a night to remember-    vejer definitely knows how to do a festival!