boosting your immune system

i recently discovered the health shop revital on wigmore street – for a small shop it has a great choice of health foods and skin products and the staff are pretty knowledgeable.   did you know that at this time of year its essential to take the supplement zinc to support your system and fight off colds and flus in the winter months? the weather is being very erratic at the moment, some days cold and windy, and other days warm and balmy, so its easy to be caught unawares.   i usually take vitamin C in the winter months, but apparently zinc and olive leaf extract are much more beneficial.  echinachea seems to be the popular cold resistant remedy, but  olive leaf extract seems to be a wonderful all round supplement.  if you feel a cold coming on, taking the homeopathic remedy aconite at those first stages can sometimes help, otherwise the remedy gelsemium is helpful.

dwarf iris

did you know that irises were used for their medicinal purposes and to make perfume – these days they are popular for any occasion as they convey courage and admiration as well as faith, hope and dwarf irises have just sprung up in the garden – i do hope that it the  cold wind doesn’t return to kill them.

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flowers springing up in my garden at the moment

using vintage linen and ribbons

i had to get some fabric  to make some cushions-   i chose a vintage linen from the amazing array of fabrics at the cloth house on berwick street.  mainly cottons, there are so many types, from ticking, linen, lovely printed vintage style prints – all perfect for furnishings or dress making.  there were some beautiful burmese linens in bright colours, orange, cerise, perfect for deckchairs.  i bought a beautiful indian throw, which had been stitched – can be used either side with contrasting colours, more like a lightweight quilt – thought it would brighten up the single bed.  they had a good selection of these throws, and they were much cheaper than other places where i had seen them.  my favourite buy was some vintage ribbon, which i am using to adapt a dress, by changing the thin arm straps. i was drawn to the lovely display of buttons, jars and jars containing vintage buttons –  the selection of vintage ribbons and buttons make you want to buy them – you are stood there racking your brain to think how to use them.  i use ribbons for edging fraying tops and dresses, repairing favourite vintage dresses – you can buy lace or silk ribbons which work perfectly for this.  not only are you recycling your favourite clothes, but making them more interesting and giving them a personal identity.  so before throwing away that lovely old dress with a tear in, have a look at whats on offer at the cloth shop.  around the corner is kleins – an amazing haberdashers, offering everything from trims, feathers, ribbons, buttons, fastenings – its another one of those places where you can spend hours wishing you could sew and make exciting things!



dulwich picture gallery

i finally made it to the dulwich picture gallery and what a trek from camden – but it was worth it;  designed by Sir John Soane  its set in lovely grounds which definitely makes for  a good day out.  included in the beautiful works on show, all  by Vanessa Bell are her book cover designs for her sister Virginia Woolf – definitely her strengths are colour and sense of pattern – i definitely felt inspired by her works and intrigued by the hedonistic lifestyle she must have led.   have afternoon tea in the cafe afterwards or pop by the little nearby gift shops on your walk from the station.


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for alfie

i can’t believe that my little boy is 21 today –  all those days wishing that the sleepless baby nights would hurry on by and before you know it, they are taller than you and young adults!  happy birthday alfie


the orchid is a symbol of love,  beauty,  innocence and because of their symmetry perfection.


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i love this short film by Jennifer Zheng – BAFTA-nominated short film ‘Tough’- it resonates so much with my own upbringing.  i too went to chinese classes on a sunday, only to rebel at around age 11.  sadly when i did wish to learn more cantonese, my mother had a severe stroke which has taken away her ability to speak properly – she has dysphasia and although she sounds normal, she is in fact mixing up all her languages and words.  the sad thing is she seems to understand what you are saying, but her brain fails to communicate properly with her mouth, so it is utter frustration .

Jennifer, a Chinese girl who grew up in Northern Ireland, examines her background and cultural identity in the film. All the BAFTA shorts are showing at selected cinemas for a limited time.

my mother holding my brother Paul and myself


when i met robert he was primarily a travel writer, but once we had children,  it practically made sense to do less travel and take a job that was  financially reliable and so be more at home with the family;  however, we have been very fortunate that he continued to maintain his love of travel and especially travel writing, which enables us to take the odd adventure.  it was 4 years ago, when we made this trip to Guatamala, but the colour and beauty of the country has had a lasting impact on me.

20 hours is a long journey, but once you arrive in antigua, guatamala, its definitely worth it.   antigua is set within a backdrop of active volcanoes, a small town with some tourism, its very similar to san miguel allende in mexico, but less touristically developed.  we stayed in one of the most breathtakingly beautiful hotels, a converted 15C monastary, with its ruins in tact, the hotel has been sympathetically created around the ruins (caused by a major earthquake), to incorporate beautiful gardens and spaces.   the rooms and corridors are filled with beautiful religious artefacts, fountains and tropical plants to create a peaceful place to stay.   i definitely want to return to hotel santa domingo.

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