unpackaged with its  amazing shopping concept – simple, green and functional  unpackaged sells all your basic groceries, from washing up liquid, to cereal and dried fruit – without any packaging – you bring your own!!  no longer a stand alone stall, they are now based in planet organic in muswell hill and several of its other branches.. if you dont bring any containers, but want to purchase one of the reusable glass jars, you then fill up on what you need – what an ethical way to shop!  its an ecologically and unique idea, and the principal should be used widely.  another similar store is on Portobello Road Liberte Cherie, and Bulk market in Hackney.  here is a full list of zero waste shops in the London area.   I wish that there was one near to me in Camden.

i actually applaud the move to charge for plastic bags – it has definitely changed my approach to shopping – i now take reusable bags all the time with me.  there are so many lightweight cloth and shopping bags around now, all designed to pop neatly in your handbag.  but my favourite bags are of course vintage ones……

national trust properties

a few years ago i remember that the national trust  had to close the modernist house, High Cross House in devon, due to lack of visitors –  its sad that some unique buildings are not able to sustain their upkeep and therefore wont be open to the public.   my kids bought me a membership recently for my birthday, but I have not yet been able to use it with this lockdown.  (it was something that I kept hinting at).  its definitely a great gift idea for that person who has everything.

homewood which is featured in some dramas and films is a national trust property and  this is on my list of things to do once we can travel again and things open up.   the last trip that i did like this was to the  Henry Moore gallery in Perry Green.  it was so peaceful and pleasurable walking around the grounds seeing all the sculptures and Moore’s workshops.

other interesting buildings to see are the  erno goldfinger house in hampstead and the literary carlyle’s house and sutton house –  chartwell, home to Churchill looks very interesting, and one of the smallest properties to see is clouds hill, rural retreat to T E Lawrence.  so maybe its time to plan a daytrip for the future and help support the maintenance of these wonderful buildings.  it also gives us something to look forward to.  its such a frustrating and depressing time and I always think that even putting a little something in the diary, even if it means changing the dates just puts a little rainbow out there.

openhouse is also an annual event that allows you to see the inside of buildings that are not normally open to the public – its maybe worth signing up now, so that you can see which ones interest you.

if you are looking to move and just want a modern house, then this is the perfect website – the modern house estate agents – it also allows you to peep at other houses and get lots of style ideas!

IMG_1008 (1) church28may2015_0361-1 stairwayDetail Shots_2918

everybody’s free to wear sunscreen

 I heard this recently and thought how true these words are…..,

Everybody’s free to wear sunscreen. 

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’97.
Wear sunscreen.
If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it.
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth; oh nevermind; you will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they have faded.
But trust me, in 20 years you’ll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can’t grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked…
You’re not as fat as you Imagine.

Don’t worry about the future; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum.
The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind.
The kind that blindside you at 4pm on some idle Tuesday.

Do one thing everyday that scares you.


Don’t be reckless with other people’s hearts, don’t put up with people who are reckless with yours.


Don’t waste your time on jealousy;
Sometimes you’re ahead,
Sometimes You’re behind.
The race is long, and in the end, it’s only with yourself.

Remember the compliments you receive, forget the insults;
If you Succeed in doing this, tell me how.

Keep your old love letters, throw away your old bank statements.


Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your
The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives, some of the most interesting 40 year olds I know still don’t.

Get plenty of calcium.

Be kind to your knees, you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

Maybe you’ll marry, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll have children, maybe you won’t, maybe you’ll divorce at 40, maybe you’ll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary.
Whatever you do, don’t Congratulate yourself too much or berate yourself either.
Your choices are half chance, so are everybody else’s.
Enjoy your body, Use it every way you can… Don’t be afraid of it, or what other people Think of it,
It’s the greatest instrument you’ll ever own…



receptacles and vases

i love vases, short, tall, transparent, opaque, patterned – they definitely make your space feel more homely.  a couple of years ago  i bought 2 vases from my friend Rhonda’s online shop – affordable and individual, she can ship them to anywhere in the world and they arrived in perfect condition.

i use almost anything as a vase, from a jar, a jug, a pot, a bottle – mix with vintage bottles and it makes for interesting displays – here’s  a collection of flowers from columbia road in lots of little containers.

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just look at the Paster-Corte collection


12 days after xmas

Wednesday the 6th is the twelfth day after christmas and is traditionally the day that you take down your xmas decorations- so dont forget!    jan 6th is epiphany and is the day the three wise  men (magi) brought their gifts to the young Jesus;  so especially in Latin American countries, the 6th Jan is usually the day that presents are given rather than 25th december.   On the night of the 5th, instead of stockings, kids leave their shoes out, stuffed with straw. It’s not Santa who comes in the middle of the night leaving the children presents. Instead, it’s the three magi who come bringing gifts for the kids, just like they gave the baby Jesus presents in honor of his birth. The straw in the children’s shoes is for the Wise Men’s camels to eat.

To celebrate the Epiphany in Spain there are also often parades featuring the three magi…  it seems it doesnt take much excuse to put on a parade in spain, throughout the year there is always a festival, parade or street party to either celebrate a saints day, or notable date in the calendar!

this year we are having our xmas tree picked up by Kentish Town city farm, and they are going to feed to goats with the tree.  it costs £6 and that includes a donation, but what a lovely thing to do with your old tree rather than dump in for the council to dispose of it.

bring on the new year….

what a year this has been – we really have lived a historical moment, but for most of us, I am guessing that we would rather have passed this by.  

the only good thing that has come out of this year is the realisation on how lucky we have been in the last few years with our freedom and the simple things like being able to see friends, go anywhere, do anything we want at any time – all things that we have all taken for granted.  for us older ones, I am guessing that some of us have quite enjoyed the peace and slow pace, but having 3 children who are trying to get on with their education and work careers, I have just seen them be anxious and struggle to understand their futures.  its easy for us to say, its just a year and everyone is in the same position worldwide, but if you are in their shoes, it really is difficult to imagine how frustrating life must be for them.  

anyhow,  I did use some of the time to continue my creative women photography project, teach myself how to  oil paint and catch up on darning all my socks and jumpers!   I also started a new writing Instagram with a ‘soul sista’, about growing up in a western world with Chinese heritage.  amazingly we share very similar likes, dislikes, passions;  our boys were at nursery together, we both studied architecture, are the same age and she is called Christine – inevitably we were going to meet up again and it has given me the opportunity to look back at my old family photos and write my thoughts and emotions honestly about how I feel and how I felt then.   and then there is the Qigong – it was introduced to me through my friend Claudia, who told me how much it helped her mentally as well as physically – this was in March at the start of lockdown.  And how right she was – I got completely addicted and have done some courses and daily qigong since then.  I have even been teaching it to my friends as a way to keep us together and see each other on zoom and this has further encouraged my wanting to learn more and understand it better.  if you had told me that at the end of 2020 I would want to be a Qigong teacher, I would have told you that you were mad!  anyhow, we shall see …….

I also sadly lost my mother in July and its just recently that this has impacted on me.  I used to visit her once a month in manchester, and so when lockdown started I got used to face timing her and so the lack of human contact had not really kicked in until December when it was her birthday and then Xmas….   I console myself with the fact that her dementia was definitely getting worse and that for my brothers to care for her, it was getting increasingly more difficult.  she didn’t die of covid, but a brain bleed due to a fall – I don’t think she understood what was going on at all, but her frustration of not being able to go out was obvious.  so 2020 has lots of milestones for me to remember….  

I also realised how much I enjoy dancing and how I have missed just going out there and letting oneself go.  

what this year has really made me realise – is how important  your health is, family and happiness.  so here are a few things that i will be bearing in mind….

generosity of thought

kindness of heart

patience of mind

selflessness in spirit

a friend wrote that we should not build fences but make a bigger table to share our food…….

love the moment. flowers grow out of dark moments. therefore, each moment is vital.

a little phrase that really resonates    – friendship isn’t about who you have known the longest – it’s about those who came and never left your side ….

traits that I shall specifically aim to improve with my own family and friends, calm not anger, praise not criticise, speak not shout and listen and not preach……..

wishing you all a joyous and healthy 2021 and hoping that it will be much brighter!

wedding cranes

In Japan, it is said that folding 1,000 paper origami cranes makes a person’s wish come true. They were traditionally given as a wedding gift, to wish a thousand years of happiness and prosperity upon the couple.

Throughout all of Asia, the crane has been a symbol of happiness and eternal youth. In Japanese, Chinese, and Korean tradition, cranes stand for good fortune and longevity because of its fabled life span of a thousand years.

According to Japanese tradition, folding 1,000 paper cranes gives a person a chance to make one special wish come true and as the crane is believed to live for 1,000 years thats why one folds 1000 paper cranes.   I photographed this image at the wedding of Eri and Ross about 5 years ago;  I was waiting by the desk for Eri to walk down the aisle of the room and spotted the beautiful light on the desk where the registrar was due to sign the wedding papers.  its one of my favourite images.   Apparently Eri and her girlfriends spent several months before the wedding making these origami cranes!  they are truly beautiful.  

in Qigong, the white crane is associated with royalty, beauty and grace.  They are often found standing on one leg, and their movements soft, flowing and delicate.  these beautiful white birds are known as protectors of family and are a great source of inspiration and wisdom, teaching us how to be reserved, quiet and content. 






the sovereignty of love

I hope you all had a lovely Xmas – a joyful and peaceful day – despite the labour of cooking and washing up – I remind myself how important family is and how lucky I am to have such lovely children , a caring husband and thoughtful friends.  I love the poetry of Christina Rossetti – the honesty and simplicity of her words also reflects the pain and illness that she suffered with her health throughout her life.

If love is not worth loving, then life is not worth living,

Nor aught is worth remembering but well forgot;

For store is not worth storing and gifts are not worth giving,

If love is not;

And idly cold is death-cold, and life-heat idly hot,

And vain is any offering and vainer our receiving,

And vanity of vanities is all our lot.

Better than life’s heaving heart is death’s heart unheaving,

Better than the opening leaves are the leaves that rot,

For there is nothing left worth achieving or retrieving,

If love is not.

Christina Rossetti

Boxing Day

did you know that boxing day was originally the day that servants and tradespeople received their gifts or xmas boxes from their employers?  sometimes their boxes would include leftover food as well as a gift and a bonus.   nowadays we associate boxing day with football matches, sale shopping and visiting friends and family that we missed on xmas day!  sadly this year we can’t do any of that – who would have predicted this?  I start a box full of stuff for charity that i dont need any more – with all the new lovely xmas gifts to house, my policy of ‘one in one out’ kicks in, usually this happens when all the cupboards and drawers are brimming with so much stuff you can’t open them without things falling out;  finally we have the time to empty those out.


so now we are in Tier 4 – I don’t quite understand what the difference in lockdown and tier 4 is, they seem pretty similar to me; anyhow, I am sure that we are all getting used to this and I am hoping that tier 5 does not suddenly appear……. there has been one good thing with these lockdowns – I am managing to read more books as I am in bed by 10am…… I am wondering if I am ever going to get back into the routine of going out beyond 10am…… so the books that I have read have been a jumble of books that I already had bought but never got round to reading. On Chesil Beach seemed very apt after my 2 visits this year to Dorset and actually seeing this beautiful coastline; I had seen the film and thought what a stunning location. the book, written by Ian McEwan quite a few years ago, is very easy to read and very enjoyable – its probably a book you can take to read on a long haul plane journey or a long train journey to Scotland. Edmund de Vaal’s, the Hare with the Amber Eyes, was quite the opposite – a long complex book that took some pages to get into, but once you did, it was very interesting to learn about one family’s history from 1871 to now and a few miniature netsuke (carvings ) that Edmund had inherited. It relays how this Jewish family came to wealth in Austria, Odessa and Paris, and then how they lost their wealth during the 2nd World War. I was fascinated to see these netsuke and as I am already a fan of Edmund;s ceramics, now understand how his shelves of similar bowls and vessels are influenced by this vitrine of 264 carvings. Its a very interesting and educational book told throughout the history of the years and worth reading. I am still completing this other gifted book, The Riviera Set by Mary S Lovell which is about the social decadence in the 1930’s through one house built on the Cote d’Azur by Maxine Elliot. I loved the stories about Churchill and all the glamorous people who visited the house. This is one of those pick up and read at any time books. I have also started reading Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier – given to me by another friend, and again set in Lyme Regis in 1810 about 3 sisters who move there from London once their father dies – its definitely an interesting and easy read and the main character enjoys finding the fossils along that Jurassic coast. I never used to read a couple of books at the same time, but sometimes you need to switch stories depending on your frame of mind.

hoping that you are all keeping well and safe and that with the introduction of the vaccines we will all soon be able to go back to normality.