an equinox is the moment in which the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun’s disk  which occurs twice each year.  today the equinox is due around 8pm – its the official end to summer and the start of autumn.  lots of cultures celebrate the equinox, including the mexicans for whom it is a big time of year.   i feel so sad for all these hurricanes and earthquakes that have affected parts of the world – we may complain about the rain and the grey days, but at least we are relatively free of these intense forces of nature.

on an equinox, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet. they are not exactly equal, however, due to the angular size of the sun and atmospheric refraction. the word is derived from the Latin aequinoctium, aequus (equal) and nox (genitive noctis) (night).


what a great opportunity to see inside the interiors of other people’s homes – openhouse has become a big success – not only for architects promoting their wares, public buildings opening their doors to the wider audience, but proud house owners welcoming you into their abodes.  the 1930’s striking white building – Isokon – was built as a social housing experiment by Jack and Molly Pritchard who also built their family apartments at the top.   the studios are tiny – but their residents super proud to be there. (I think a students room in a hall of residence may be slightly bigger!)  of course the penthouse apartment is spectacular with its plywood clad walls and floors and vast roof terrace – definitely worth the wait to see. there is a little gallery on sitethat tells you the history of the building.

if you are clever enough to book up in advance, you could probably see 3 or 4 buildings in a day, but realistically choose 2 or 3 places in the same area.  we then visited Willow Road, which is open all year round as it is owned by the national trust.  marvel at the opening wall panels that allow you to reveal one large space or provide several living areas.  designed by Erno Goldfinger for himself and his family, it also shows Goldfinger’s collection of art and furniture.


I thought that this poem was particularly appropriate as one daughter is exploring far shores, one daughter has finished school – so no more bound by school holidays – and one son has finished uni.  not only does this make me feel ancient, but also sad and reminiscent of how quick the years of childhood have flown by.


It is both sad snd a relief to fold so carefully

her outgrown clothes and line up the little worn shoes

of childhood, so prudent, scuffed and particular.

It is both happy and horrible to send them galloping

back tappity-tap along the mist chill path into the past. .

It is both a freedom and a prison, to be outgrown

by her as she towers over me as thin as a sequin

in her doc Martens and her pretty skirt

because just as I work out how to be a mother

she stops being a child.

Penelope Shuttle


the beauty of books

always love going to broadway market on a saturday and especially to donlon books – there are always so many books that i want to buy from there – the owner has an exceptional eye and has a great selection – its a good place to go if you are stuck for gifts.  on my list is the beeautiful photography book Frida by Ishiuchi Miyako, which documents the dresses and personal belongings of Frida Kahlo – its an intuitive way of telling the life of Frida through her possessions.  the photos are simply beautiful.  it also reminds me of our visit to mexico with the kids 6 years ago – a wonderful cultural experience that still remains with me.

other interesting books are ‘The Biba Years 1963-1975′ and Edmund de Waal, a retrospective publication devoted to his ceramics.

incidentally I have just found out that my book stolen glimpses has just been shortlisted in the photographic monograph section of the British book design awards this year.

I can only thank all the people who encouraged me to do this book, my husband, my brother who spent hours designing the book,  and especially Frances, Peta and Pip, who all sat there with me for weeks on end, editing to make a book that I thought would just be distributed amongst my friends, so I am more than happy that its been noticed amongst the industry – a precious industry that needs to be supported.  how sad if books just disappear and we only have words that can be deleted on a screen…..

_MG_3146 _MG_3142

royal college of physicians

I love open house weekend – I remember a couple of years ago it falling on a beautiful sunny weekend  – autumn seems to have arrived quickly this year. we looked at the list of open house buildings close to us and decided on the royal college of physicians.  its a stunning building, built in 1964 by the renowned Sir Denys Lasdun, who also designed the national theatre – which people either love or hate!  i love it!  but you cannot dislike the beautiful marble tiled building in regents park – the conference room is stunning as well as the library!   attention to detail is all over this design and how bold to be so inventive when all the neighbouring buildings are the famous nash terraces of regents park.  reminds me of the much smaller olivetti space in venice. open house london opens this weekend, so take a look at some of the interesting buildings that you can visit;  some you have to book in advance, but some you can just turn up and take a chance.

The Olivetti showroom is one of the most exquisite rooms I’ve ever been in, restored to its simple, yet sumptuous elegance and open to the public. It was designed by Carlo Scarpa in 1957 with the utmost attention to detail.  i love baroque venice, but it was refreshing to find something like this amongst all the venetian typical style.  i particularly loved the marble/chip floor which were similar to the marble tiles on the physician’s building.

16Dec2014_0195 16Dec2014_0190 16Dec2014_0181 16Dec2014_016816Dec2014_0191

Kempton market

haven’t been for a while, but as one of my friends is just moving into a new flat and she needed lots of stuff, i offered to drive there;  so it was a very early start to get there, and fortunately it was a beautifully sunny morning.  kempton was originally aimed at dealers, who buy their wares for their lovely shops and posh stalls in london – but increasingly people like myself go there to find a good deal on anything from storage boxes, fabric, vintage jewellery or china wear.   i actually think its become more of a tourist event, just like portobello and camden.  think portobello market times by 30 times its size!!!  it can be a bit daunting, a bit frustrating, a bit aladdins cave, but as i have been a few times now i arrived much more prepared – comfortable walking shoes, sandwich in my bag.   literally, vans open their back doors and sell their wares – they come from all over, manchester, france, belgium,  the english countryside…. i take a strict budget of cash – when this runs out, thats it, spending finished – its the only way to control your spending.   make a short list of what you are actually looking for, so that you bypass the stalls that appear to not stock what you are looking for.   i noted a couple of items that i was looking for, but quickly bought them – if you are not careful you can ponder, then lose your way trying to find the stall again, and then after all that, the item is gone!!  kempton is on the 2nd and last tuesday of the month.

there is only one van selling tea and not so healthy sandwiches, but if you like a toastie it fills a gap!  then on your way home, make a diversion to maids of honour or head towards petersham nurseries which is not too far away.

i always buy some blue bottles for my flowers – its an addiction that i can’t seem to beat…..

IMG_4674 IMG_4673 IMG_4668

open air cinema

so I finally got to see my first open air film and experience the wonder of watching a classic great film amidst the nature of regents park.  however, I always remember September in london as being quite a mild and pleasant month – this last week has been far from that,  buckets of rain, whipping wind, but splashes of heat when the sun does finally pear through the clouds. and so I bought 2 tickets well in advance for the 50th anniversary release of the Graduate – a film that I only remember seeing in snippets on the television.  I kept googling the weather, hoping that it was going to change in our favour, but seeing that the evenings were bringing our usual downpours of the moment, we went despite the forecast, but armed with bin bags to sit on, picnic rugs and blankets, plus waterproof coats – we looked set for an expedition, not an evening at the cinema!   the Luna cinema didn’t disappoint, the screen was so generous, and the sound was very clear (speckled with the trees rushing in the wind);  its a wonderful experience and a great film – so funny, well written and beautiful shot with great actors.   it was made even more funny when the skies opened, the rain poured for 20 mins at the precise point in the film where there is a rain scene.  everyone in the audience just laughed.  try and catch it as its on at the cinemas.