exhibitions to see

there are so many exhibitions and galleries to visit now that we are able to. i have recently been to see a few, catching up on seeing art live is so inspirational. actually being in a room with a painting that you have seen for many years in print evokes a different feeling – seeing the brush strokes, the depths and tones. go and visit the Rothko room at Tate Britain and feel the harmony of those red hues.

Paula Rego is deeply moving and complex, relating the injustice to the female, violence, oppression – each painting relays a message, revealing the deep thoughts and moral sensibilities of the artist – sometimes portrayed as an activist, Rego rightly reveals the unfairness to women and girls and her paintings definitely disturb, provoke and make you think.

Noguchi at the Barbican shows what a varied artist/designer/sculptor he is – turning his hand to stage sets, bronzes and wooden sculptures – his most recognisable item being the paper lantern, which sadly has been overcopied , but part of every students room. An interesting exhibition for the those interested in all aspects of design.

the Royal Academy has its summer exhibition on, later due to the covid situation but worth a visit to see art from all ages, abilities. Always a bit overwhelming seeing so many pictures hung all together, it keeps one hope that you don’t have to be famous to hang in such an amazing gallery.

I am staying very close to the Victoria Miro gallery – an amazing architectural space, its always worth paying this gallery a visit.

Also worth visiting is the David Parry house in Cambridge, a fascinating insight into the house of David Parry who helped design the wall papers of William Morris; in his own home, he actually painted the designs directly onto the walls, rather than using paper – and all these years later, they have been preserved by his granddaughter and open to the public. you visit in small groups, but well worth seeing this beautiful labour of love in a domestic home.

happy art viewing.

ceramics and artisan

i am always looking for  beautiful ceramics – have a look at the delicate beakers and jugs by James and tilla waters. I love the bold designs of Silvia K. i also like the simplicity of the creamer jug from another country.  love the colourful blue jugs by reiko kaneko  – jugs are something i can’t resist and i have jugs in all sizes and colours, some old, some new!

jug_0080 jugs_0075 jugs_0071

another of my favourite ceramicists is Jacqui Roche,  who makes lovely cream porcelain ware, including this lovely porcelain rose.  Jacqui also runs workshops for adults and children, learning to use the wheel and glazing pots – she’s inspirational.  Fliff Carr is also a brilliant ceramics and teacher – her fine delicate pieces make lovely gifts. 

there seem to be very few artisan shops left in london, i find that its essential to touch and feel the things that i want to buy and especially the scale – you lose all the beauty in a photograph online.  fortunately there are a few shops remaining that still show interesting hand made ceramics – my favourites are listed.

My new discovery is Kobo in a little alley in Norwich, beautifully presented, and more rustic and earthy coloured pots, you can’t leave without purchasing something. mint is an inspiring shop selling beautiful ceramics and artisan products.    egg is another source of inspiration,  no website, but worth the journey.  igigi in brighton is another favourite place of mine – and definitely makes going to brighton worth it. merci in paris is another shop worth all the travelling to – its got to be a must on your list of paris shopping – merci also gives its profits to charity.Eclectic is typically japanese , very white, minimal, very delicate in style but like a breath of fresh air, it stands out amongst the usual chain shops around town.  of course there is frank in whitstable,  abigail aherne in islington has an unusual choice of ceramics.  native and co have lovely selection of Japanese gifts and homewares and momosan near London Fields also is a lovely shop to visit for gifts. 

harvest moon

tonight is the last full moon of the summer  known as the ‘autumn or corn moon’ – so called because it signals the time when corn, pumpkins, squash, beans and wild rice – the chief Indian staples are ready for gathering.  it has been full for the last 2 days, so try and look out for it. 

This full Moon corresponds to the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival. The seventh month of the Chinese calendar is the Ghost Month and the fifteenth day of this month (a full Moon day) is called Ghost Day, on which ghosts and spirits, including those of deceased ancestors, come out to visit the living.  the ghosts are not scary in this instance, more a remembering of the past.  It’s also the autumnal time that families come together and  celebrate the abundance of life and what it offers, letting go of any pains and stresses and holding new intentions.  Coincidentally we are all here in Andalucia, the whole family, plus my son in law enjoying the warmth and family time – the last 18 months of strangeness has passed so quickly, but we missed lots of big birthdays during that time, 30, 21, 60 – so it feels that this 2 weeks has been a wonderful sharing time to reunite and catch up on everything.  Tonight we are going to celebrate the autumnal moon by watching it rise over the sea.  

here are a few pics from the town of the last couple of days with the moon in all its glory. 



I am finally back in spain  and all my family with me, which is a huge pleasure after the last 18 months of being apart and not  being able to celebrate family birthdays and occasions.  With all my kids working or away at Uni, its been very difficult to get us all together.

September is such a lovely time to be in Andalucia, though we have had the odd downpour, but unlike London, the sun does break out and gives you a dash of warmth and glow.  the town quietens down and the beaches are filled with a scattering of people – the temperature is near perfect, around 25 C and the sea warm.  after 21 years of having our house here, we still always manage to discover new things, either through recommendations or just stumbling on things.  of course, some good things go, and some good things appear.  sadly, a lot of the amenity shopping in the old town seem to be replaced by dress shops or another restaurant.

Chiringuitos, are small bars or stands that can be seen the length of the Spanish coast, usually on the beachfront they open up during the busier holiday times and are much more affordable.  There are different types, some selling cold beverages and others that are much more elaborate and may serve meals. Some of the most typical treats on offer are paella and sardines, although the variety depends on the place .  There used to be a few stands on the beach at El Palmar, but sadly they haven’t been given their licences this past year,  apparently the restaurants complained about them taking their custom.  But there are lots of other chiringuitos on other beaches.  There is a great one on Mangueta beach, which simply barbecues fish and prawns and serves with salad, and a couple further down nearer to the lighthouse of Trafalgar, El Nia and Faro Beach.   another fun vibrant chiringuita is tangana on valdequeros beach – very close to the dunes just outside of tariff.   there is a lovely shop there too, caravan, housed in a caravan type shack, selling more quality summer clothes.   Canos de Meca has chiringuitas, as well as Zahara de los Atunes.

we now have pop up vans and trucks which is the english equivalent to the chiringuita.  in fact, Whitecross street, which is just by my new flat has a series of pop up stalls and vans, serving absolutely everything from Thai, Sushi, Lebanese,  Indian – don’t know whether this is a good thing or not having something like this on your doorstep.


I have finally made it back to Padstow  – its been more than 3 years since I have been – staying with my lovely friends Jon and Kim, who moved down here several years ago.  Each time i come, there are new enterprises popping up;  including  hawksfield, a recent enterprise of vintage furniture, health food and deli products, flowers, homeware by Jo and co.   the cafe there is also a fun place to meet – its more informal, but also does breakfast.   Hawksfield is just outside of Wadebridge.

we had lunch at Potager in Constantine, a cafe /restaurant housed in a garden centre which had been left to be delapidated and over the years has been restored ,to provide a really lovely space for meeting, arts and crafts workshops and really tasty healthy food. 

I also walked over to the Old lifeboat station, Edward Woodward’s old house In Hawkers cove – again a beautiful spot and if you go early, say 9am, its practically deserted, even in the height of the August tourist season.  sadly, it’s been sold and apparently being developed into something swish, which is always sad.  

A new stopping place, just outside of Padstow is Margo’s – a restaurant that opens from breakfast, right through to dinner; the food is locally sourced and seasonal and you can also find local products for sale – chocolate, gin, wine and preserves.  there is also a garden centre and flowers shop selling locally grown flowers.

A great place to eat is  Appletons, a very tasty rustic Italian style food restaurant at trevibban mill.  the food is locally grown and raised, with some of the vegetables grown on site.   this is a local cornish vineyard that produces its own wine and cider,  you can  have wine tasting tours which sound fun – if only i drank wine!  i noticed that you could buy home spun wool too. its always lovely to see new places opening up – i realised that we have been coming to Padstow for over 20 years now as my friends have always had a place there.

We walked up again to the nearby granite obelisk which was built in 1887 to commemorate the Jubilee of Queen Victoria, offering stunning views and quietness from the busy centre of Padstow.



art shops are so inspiring

one of my all time favourite shops in london, l. cornelissen stocks art materials, but not just like your regular art shop,  its a specialist in all types of mediums, from inks, to watercolours, to gouache etc….  there are bottles, jars, tins, tubes of everything that you would ever need.  the problem is that i dont even know what you use most of the things for!  its definitely a place for inspiring your creativity – i bought some lovely pastels, in their gorgeous boxes, you feel that they are themselves an art piece and  will try them out in the large choice of sketch books that they have in stock.  what a brilliant present to buy somebody interested in art, a starter kit in drawing or painting  with a lovely notebook – perfect for any young teenager or for someone to inspire them to start drawing!

I recently discovered another lovely shop – art shops seem to be curiousity shops that you can spend hours in – Stuart  Stevenson on Clerkenwell Road. 

I have only ever bought online from them, but Jackson’s art shop has a good choice too. 

Great Art has a wide range of ready made linen oil canvasses as well as all the usual art materials, plus its opposite my favourite Vietnamese restaurant. 

i recently joined a Chinese painting class and started painting these flowers – you just need a roll of rice paper, a couple of good brushes and a bottle of ink;  watercolours are easy to do too, you dont need much space, you just need a brush and a few colours and water ……  I find a need a class to get me started – I always have good intentions, but actually joining a class really makes you get up and have a go!

on the make

so living in a new area is both exciting and daunting – it’s strange how you get into habits and trust things that you know or are familiar;  even shopping in another branch of M & S is different and takes a while to adjust to.  Islington is definitely more upmarket to Camden, or maybe it’s customer demographic is different – feeling more like Marylebone with higher end brands, it’s hard not to pop into Toast or Ottolenghi whilst out buying your everyday shopping.   my favourite shop so far is Ray Stitch – I remember them on Broadway Market many years ago. 

ray stitch is great for haberdashery, ribbons, fabrics , patterns – a whole room of interesting designs to keep you inspired –  plus sewing classes – which look so interesting; there are a wide range of classes available from absolute beginners up – its a great gift idea to give to that person who has never sewn in their life!!  in fact there are lots of gift ideas in there. 

another way to learn new techniques are by zoom with classes run by Toast – during the pandemic, I did so many different ones that were on offer, from sashiko repair, embroidery stitches, darning and repair – we curse the computer, but at times it can offer so much.  

 tea and crafting also looks like a very interesting place – you can do one off workshops, learn to knit, make a lampshade or a ring, or just about anything.   you can also join classes at your local adult education centre, such as city lit, working mens college.

so with your ever growing list of things to do in the new year, you can add sewing classes – it may never happen, but at least the intention was there!  I recently had a go at embroidery – sewing in front of the TV using the only stitch I can remember from school  –  I did do needlework and domestic science at school, it was definitely a fun part of the curriculum, though now deemed as  lightweight subjects.  



moving house

It’s taken many years, uhming and ahhing about whether to move or not, and somehow lockdown managed to persuade us that we didnt need a big family house any more. I guess spending time amongst all your things and being more at home, really ingrains how much stuff you possess. Don’t get me wrong, I was very lucky to be in the house during the pandemic, having space, an outdoor garden, even small was a godsend, especially as 2020 was a sunny warm summer, but once winter drew in, we had made up our mind that it was time to leave after 26 years and allow another family to grow and enjoy the space, create their own memories and have their own adventures. Mine have now grown up, Maude being 22, she is still the baby of the family, but already enjoying the wide world out there.

Although you usually have at least 3 months to prepare for the moving out process, one doesn’t actually start properly until you have exchanged; as we had had one buyer pull out close to exchanging, we really didn’t want to accept that it was actually going to happen until we had exchanged – in this case, that gave us just 2 weeks to pack. So I totally underestimated the amount of work physically and emotionally packing up a house;  5 floors of stuff that tell stories from 5 different individuals…. I tried to refrain from opening each file, each book, each box, but curiosity and human nature beat me to it and so by the last week, I was literally throwing things in boxes to enable the move.   Strangely once you start dismantling your space, it becomes less and less your space, devoid of your family, friends and personal trinkets, it becomes another box, an empty shell to make your own.  I definitely have now separated myself from the house, just seeing the vastness and endless floors as more and more work.   I have to admit that I did shed a tear on the last hour walking around checking the cupboards and nooks and crannies.  

As we have to refurbish our next home, moving was more problematic, as most of our stuff had to go into store, some work stuff went into a local store for easy access, some went to both my older children as they were moving into new homes, and a lot went to charity and the dump! it definitely made life easier employing a company to deliver boxes and packaging and help on the day with packing and carrying. its definitely money worth spending.

We are temporarily living in a 2 bedroom flat, a quarter of the size of the house, but strangely it’s just enough for us both.  I guess we are realising that we have now entered a new phase of our life, cleansing and reducing, living more simply, it’s a breath of fresh air and a weight of our shoulders..

We look forward to the next chapter of our lives; downsizing enables you to clear any debts and mortgages, help the children a little but mainly it allows you to rethink your own life and what you need and desire.