this year we have decided to have our family holiday later than usual, at the beginning of September – some days it was unusually windy, not a cold breeze, but a hot gust – levante – coming from the sahara; fortunately its this wind that keeps the town bearable from the heat.  even with the breeze the sea is always refreshing at this time of year, its definitely warmed up throughout the summer.  what you must not do is sit on the beach during 12 – 5pm – the art is arriving at a nearby restaurant, taking a leisurely lunch, then moving to the beach. we have several favourites – conil and restaurant la fontanilla, el palmar and nacarum (formally la chanca),  ohana is a casual snack bar on cabo de trafalgar, but has a lovely relaxed atmosphere and the beach there is unspoilt; but my favourite is la taberna de el campero and the restaurant at hotel don antonio  both in Zahara followed by a dip in the sea on the lovely beach, which is surrounded by dunes and desert plants.  canos de meca is also a lovely beach at this time of year, with its chiringuitos (beach bars) –  its a bit more sheltered on those windy days.


i increasingly seem to be visiting Liverpool en route to seeing my mother;  its a 2 hour train journey from london and then a 45 min drive to manchester.  my friend Elise is very taken with the city and takes me to new things each time we visit.  this time we found the Bluecoat gardens, with their lovely exhibition space and ceramics shop – it’s a pleasant courtyard garden right in the heart of the shopping centre.

if you have time pop into the tate – Keith Haring is on at the moment  – london isn’t the only place to have important art!  stop to eat at ‘the quarter’ in the beautiful georgian area around hope street, or the florist for a bite to eat or just for  coffee and cake; and then a must see stop are the 2 opposing cathedrals – both architecturally amazing in their own right.  if you have more time, take the 15 min drive to Crosby beach to see ‘another place’ by Antony Gormley – a series of life size cast iron figures set along the beach seemingly entering the sea.  there is definitely a revival for Liverpool – I really enjoyed the programme about the history of a Georgian house in Liverpool , fascinating social history.


incidentally this opening shot of my book ‘stolen glimpses’ is from the window of Tate Liverpool.


Mersea Island

Orford is one of the prettiest villages en route to the cottage, with its Georgian houses, village square and church – its also a spot for sailing, bird watching and good food.  there is the famous  Pump St bakery and simple seafood at Butley Oysterage – which is real hearty food, quite similar to the style you get at St John restaurant.  I really recommend the doughnuts and Eccles cakes from Pump St.  there is also the hotel and restaurant  the Crown and Castle  that does a good set lunch on a Sunday – its more grown up from the other restaurants, but still a nice spot to visit. Orford also has a castle to explore too.

if you continue to travel towards the essex border you will find Manningtree, situated on the river Stour, with the village of Mistley a short walk away.  Mistley retains some of the grain mills by the quay – glorious victorian warehouses that tell stories of years gone by.  we had delicious lunch at Mistley Thorn – offering  a daily special menu that is very good value.  close by is the North House Gallery, set on the ground floor of a handsome georgian house, which has a beautiful curation of works, usually landscapes and in the back room wonderful letterpress machines used by the curator herself.   Mistley kitchen not only sells a selection of cookery utensils, but hosts a variety of cookery courses.  and less than 15 mins drive away is Flatford, the home of John Constable.

Just a bit further is Mersea Island with its great sea food restaurants;  as it was a Monday, there was only the west Mersea oyster bar open, which was good enough food with a lovely outside terrace onto the water – you can get the usual fish and chips, lobster, oysters and roasted fish.  it really is an industrious working harbour.  the other recommended restaurant is the Company Shed.

we also took a walk along Frinton on Sea with its spectacular 1930’s houses and long sandy beach and beach huts – very quiet and gentle, it was hard to believe that it was the middle of August.  however, I don’t think that there are any recommended restaurants in Frinton, but worth going to see the architecture.


true music

Time is expressed

in the heart

of an instrument

Something that stops

in the heart of a man

Time is the wall and the space around

Time is the tree a life that resounds

Time to adore and time to go

To give to the fisherman

the slippers of Rome

the whirling embrace

the arms of the fold

to gather together

the swirl of the leaves

turning and falling

returning as thee

to the clay of creation

tho your children will hold

the wave of your hand

the smile of your soul….

Patti Smith


women and art

women artists are finally  being acknowledged and recognised – the Tate has recently shown the beautiful textiles and designs of Anni Albers who was overshadowed by her husband Josef Albers and now they are showing the interesting and very diverse paintings of the Russian artist Natalia Goncharova. Prolific in her 80 plus years of painting, her style varies so much  that at times its hard to believe that one person could create all those genres;  the overriding theme is that ‘anything goes in art’.

At the Barbican Lee Krasner is a rage of colour and you can probably guess from her style that her husband was Jackson Pollack – hence being left in the shadows.   Helene Schjerfbeck is on at the Royal Academy, and again produced a vast amount of work in her 80 years too;  her paintings are a beautiful soft palette of greys and muted tones with a smudge of red rouge on the lips.  I particularly loved a lot of her portraits – I feel that there is a  mood of my photographs and so I was very glad to find her work;  a lot of her subjects gaze away from the viewer, but what is outstanding is the one room of self portraits – you can feel the ageing process without it being obviously painted – the interplay of shadow and light telling the story….

there is also an exhibition of shoes by Manolo Blahnick – cleverly interspersed in the regal rooms of the Wallace collection.  note that the shoes seem to be similar to those in the nearby paintings from the 17C and 18C.     I love that the Wallace collection is entirely free – it has an amazing collection of early works, which can get lost in the splendour of the rooms with their richly decorative furnishings and wallpaper, which are so interesting themselves.   enjoy a cream tea in the covered courtyard.

I rarely visit the new Design museum, but my friend Maria got me a free ticket to see a viewing of the new documentary Bauhaus 100 – that simply explains the history of Bauhaus Design, which is 100 years old and started by Walter Gropius;  it traces the growth and movement until it finally ended with the rise of power of Nazi Germany – it was seen to be too progressive and away from German tradition, promoting liberalism.   with its centenary, this autumn sees a handful of events to commemorate the occasion including one at the William Morris gallery.  lots of Bauhaus designers were forced to emigrate worldwide to escape persecution.  Anne Albers was one of those artists.  catch the documentary on BBC 4 arts.

we are so lucky to live in a city which has a constantly changing arts programme, a lot of it is free and open every day;  whenever you feel to be inspired, just take a morning looking around a gallery, it will really lift your spirits…..


postcard teas

i love tea of all types – i discovered just around the corner from me, mei leaf, which has a huge variety of black and green teas, plus lots of great tea pots and one pot filter systems.  after lazily buying tea bags i have now decided that i like the old fashioned loose tea, so all those one pot cafetieres especially for tea are ideal. also at chinalife  you can get a 20 min massage or find lots of books about health and advice on chinese medicine.  teasmith in spitalfields is a much more refined and designed oriental style tea house, beautifully presented the packs of tea makes a wonderful gift, a couple of beautiful japanese ceramic beakers plus beautifully packaged tea.  postcard teas is definitely for you tea conossieurs and has teas from all over the world – definitely more selective and pricy, but exquisitively packaged and presented.

moody month

moody month was built by women for women, its an app that gives the information with empathy and intuitiveness from a team of amazing experts from doctors, gynaecologists and endocrinologists, including the lovely Lola Ross, who I had the pleasure of photographing.    food and nutrition can play a big part in balancing your body and changing your moods.  read more about Lola in this months Whistles women blog.