100 years today

today marks 100 years since women in the UK first got the right to vote – sadly this did not include all women – working class women were excluded unless they owned their own property or had a university degree.   this didn’t come without a struggle. throughout history many women campaigned incredibly hard to make this happen and these include amazing women like Florence Nightingale, Marie Curie Jane Austen who published anonymously as women writers were not taken seriously,  Emmeline Pankhurst who fought incredibly hard to get the right to vote for women in the UK.

I loved this film – suffragette – not just because of the costumes, cinematography and the brilliant acting, but because it highlights the struggles of women all over the world;  happily we have gone beyond most of the challenges that women in the early 1900’s faced, but it reminds us that traces still exist in some parts of the world.  its hard to believe that women  had to sacrifice their children and homelife to voice their right to equality.   As a woman i salute their bravery, determination and resilience to effectively allow our lives to be as they are today.  carey mulligan just goes from strength to strength and edwardian london looks great with its bustling streets and laundry.


27Oct2014_0030 27Oct2014_0031

I read the book about the lives of the pre raphaelites by franny moyle – inspired by  seeing the exhibition at the Tate – i felt that i wanted an interesting read about the times and tales – there have been so many stories about the beautiful women in the paintings.   its an enjoyable book and especially as its around the same time as the dickens book by clare tomalin and relives the history of london streets – am so glad to be a female in our modern times though, unless you had money and social position,  there was so much inequality for the life of the poor woman;  it was difficult to rise out of your class, even with the influence of money and friends.

what saddens me is the demise of letter writing – if it wasnt for letters none of these stories would have  been discovered – most of the book’s factual points are taken from the personal letters  and diaries that were written.  with our modern day emails and text, none of these are permanent – its rare to even print photos now, everything is kept on a screen, and then eventually replaced and updated.  i guess keeping a blog, like mine is the modern diary, except you share it – there is no way i would have wanted someone to read my diary when i was young.  i remember keeping one for several years in my early teens.

i have decided to letter write again, and if no time for a  letter then to send notes with cards, its much more romantic!


the paris wife

have just finished reading this book, ‘The Paris Wife’ – its an interesting insight into the early life of Ernest Hemmingway, through the words and viewpoint of his first wife,  Hadley Richardson.   Its an easy read, and although not a biography, rather a historical novel weaved through facts, it paints a picture of that time in the 1920’s around Paris and its rising creatives.

I have stopped buying weekend papers – the supplements used to pile up by bed, ready to read, and although I feel somewhat guilty not supporting the trade that initiated my husband’s career, I feel that its time to cut back on waste and clutter.  Instead I now pick one of the many beautiful photo books that line my shelves – and take the time to read and look at the wonderful inspiring photos.   this last week I have been reading ‘A woman’s war’ by Lee Miller – very interesting, lots of historical facts and an insight into how women contributed during the war – either by joining the forces, or helping with menial tasks such as packing parachutes;  it shows the fashions of the time that  prevailed although there was huge rationing;  it was very disturbing to see the aftermath of the war, the ruin and devastation of cities, the poverty and yet there was a glimmer of hope.  all this through the amazing photos of Lee Miller as she was the official war photographer for Vogue.  I think that I saw this exhibition at the wonderful Imperial War Museum, one of my recent discoveries in this great cultural city.  I am sure you can still find the book, makes a great xmas present.


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

world book day

today is world book day – if you register online, there are lots of offers and events for children – i am all for children reading more and spending less time on the computer – though i do see that even publishers have had to move into more interactive studies for children.  but how lovely it is to read to a young child just before they go to sleep – it was robert’s highlight of the day, and now its all over – as soon as they reach 9 0r 10, they dont allow you that privilege.  i remember alfie’s favourite book was  ‘goodnight moon’ – robert used to read it to him every night – he knew the words off by heart, such a lovely book, every child should have this book.

my favourite places to have coffee are in bookshops that also serve you tea and cakes – what a perfect balance, to relax and spend time choosing and discovering new books. – best of them are books for cooks,   foyles on charring cross road,  the society club in soho sells beautiful art and vintage books,  stanfords sells everything about travel,  tea and tattle has a very british tea room,  and book and kitchen has cakes downstairs.

I still love to read an actual book, not for me the kindle or iPad……….

even a pile of books can look beautiful……

in Cartagena, we stumbled upon a lovely bookshop and cafe, abaco  – so if you manage to get to Cartagena Colombia, do try and stop by there.


for eilleen

another year gone in a blink, today is 6 years since eilleen passed away and we miss her even more.  she came to spain with us whilst in her 70’s and loved the street life, the fact that old and young sat in the streets all night long.  i recently discovered federico garcia lorca’s sketches of spain and am taken by his evocative words, his poetic prose magically expresses the  spirit of the landscape – romantic gardens, splendid plains – its a beautiful book, that you can pick up and read sections at any time.

A romantic garden.

” Spanish gardens are disappearing. Tidy, symmetrical English parks are replacing them….Only very infrequently, walking along a deserted path leading to humble places, do we come across a shadowy deserted garden.

The romantic gallant soul of the eighteenth century beats along its avenue. The garden loves pallid ladies and gentleman poets. Twilight gardens from an age of sentimental dramas. Misty gardens that made Juan Ramon Jimenez, the great poet of mists, suffer so ……

The garden was alone. Pink and white hollyhocks flourish their flowering staffs among green waves of myrtles that run riot.  The green dome of a pergola overgrown by a tea rose rises in the centre of the garden.  Inside dry leaves cover a black stone table.  The benches have sunk into the wet ground and a cascade of ivy does its best to hide them……”


this print of andalucian fields is in my book stolen glimpses and is also available to buy framed at tidy street store, brighton.


i have just finished reading Isabel Allende’s ‘ The Japanese Lover’  – i have to admit, it was the first novel of hers that i have read and although i found the ending somewhat unbelievable and rushed to reach a conclusion – i thoroughly enjoyed it – its romantic, informative and unpredictable.  i wish that i could have read it in spanish, because i am sure that some of the translation lost some of her subtly and meaning.  its a love story, quite like, Gabriel Garcia Marques’  love in the time of cholera and is an easy read, especially if you have a long train or plane journey ahead of you.

i loved this corner book stall in mumbai – english books piled high!





so we are always looking for stylish independent shops with great choices for gifts and to just treat yourself – and now i have found it tidy street store in brighton has just opened by my lovely friends Florence and Grace – both are THE most stylish females on the planet, mother and daughter  team , so their choices encompasses both age groups, so there is definitely something for you.   with their amazing eye they have both discovered a range of individual and mainly artisan products – its worth the trip to brighton.  they are also now selling copies of my book. 

a few other good shops worth visiting, 42 cold pressed juiceworkshop with its beautifully simple home wears, igigi – clothes and general homestore with cafe upstairs, quince beautiful flower shop, utility – another shop similar to labour and wait;  magazine has an amazing choice of journals and magazines – you can spend hours in there.  there are definitely a lot of gifts to buy in brighton and its worth the trip just for a change of scene and some fresh sea air!

i was also introduced to gustamps – an old collection of stamps stored in boxes and boxes – choose a range of vintage picture 1st class stamps at only 45p each, much nicer than the plain 1st class stamp that now costs 64p.  as long as it says 1st and is not franked, then its still valid to use.  i bought some really cute beatrix potter and bird stamps.

you can still find a lot of vintage dress shops;  i loved hope and harlequin in sydney street in brighton – lots of unusual dresses , especially for parties and special occasions;   next door is wolf and gypsy , with a lot more affordable clothes, both for men and women.    starfish vintage clothing has more daywear, and is also a bit more affordable.

we had lunch at silo,  a restaurant wholly concerned with the environment and how to nourish our bodies respectfully.  it was a very unusual menu, but tasty.  apparently good for breakfast and tea and cakes.

tidystreet_0024 tidy-street_0022