Dorothea Lange

A must see exhibition at the moment is on at the Barbican –  the pioneering documentary photographer Dorothea Lange and contemporary photographer Vanessa Winship.  I am in great awe of Dorothea Lange and this exhibition cemented my feelings – she was a determined and powerful woman, using her camera as a pollitical tool to shine a light on cruel injustices .  it really is inspiring and even at my age she was visiting those migrant camps showing the world the deep sadness and upset that many people had to experience.  I quite liked the photographs of Winship too, but they are very different in style, much more contrived, but still very poignant.

we took a walk around the barbican – one of my favourite places in london – take a  walk around the conservatory garden,  quite like a mini Eden or Kew conservatory,  however you do have to book in advance for afternoon tea.  how lucky we are to have so many wonderful free things to do in london.

 

 

serpentine

was really disappointed with this years design of the temporary pavilion at the serpentine – a grey hard box with very little interesting lines and spaces – it felt cold and hard, and the dry bare grass of the park seemed to just emphasise its harshness.  however its still a great annual design project to look forward to seeing and i guess some years are better than others.  it may just be my opinion and I bet lots of people really like this years design.   take a walk to the serpentine cafe and see the even more stranger sculpture made by Christo – made entirely of barrels its one big bright block right in the middle of the lake.  again I was not taken by this sculpture – the big bulky structure looked heavy and the colours so bold and bright in such a lovely green london space – felt too Jeff Koons for me.

Sardinia

its been on my list of places to go, so when one of my girlfriends suggested that a group of us girls go to her house in Sardinia – we all managed to find a date and book our tickets together – not an easy feat for 5 busy working mums.  in fact its took us several years to co ordinate this, as we all met when our children were 3 years old at nursery – we have managed to keep up our dinners at each others houses and the odd trip out for more than 16 years!   i did know one of the girls from manchester, but I am very happy that these 4 ladies have remained very good friends and confidants.

Sardinia is very beautiful and has this striking landscape of rocks and green mountains full of pink stoned houses –  stunning views and very windy roads, so not great if you get a bit travel sick.  we took a boat trip out to the more remote coves and beaches – which are plentiful – the sea is turquoise and pretty still so swimming is a must.  we were staying in Porto Cervo, which is an area that has its own beach.  its definitely a lot more upmarket to the costa de la Luz, which I am more used to.    we stopped by the luxury nearby Cala di Volpe hotel for Bellini cocktails – another world – it always surprises me that there is so much wealth in the world – Sardinia is sadly invaded by the Russians and superrich with their fast cars, boats and helicopters.   fortunately there are parts of Sardinia that are more real, like the village of San Pantaleo, situated in the mountains of Gallura, a short drive from the ostentatious wealth of the Costa Smeralda.   there is a lovely village square overlooked by a church, lots of boutiques – and lots of bars and eating places.   we ate a typical plate of Sardinian crispy thin bread topped with cheese, olives and cold meats in cafe Nina in the main square.  on Thursdays there is a morning craft market – lots of lovely Indian printed dresses and bags and crafts.

it was a wonderful 4 day trip with beautiful warm friends;  it can be hard to spend long days with a group of girls, but this was a relaxing and heartfelt break that made me realise how important girlfriends are in your life.  I love my trips with my husband and children, but it really is a different more relaxing vibe with girlfriends.  I feel lucky to have so many lovely girlfriends.

 

 

swimsuits

have spent weeks looking for swimsuits – so difficult to find ones that fit well.  finally found one in j crew, they have a big range online, but not many in the store, but if you go and try on the sizes and shapes, you can then find your size online.   i really like the simplicity of the costumes from eres swimwear, but the prices are so high – its also about finding the right amount of coverage at my age – look out for them in the sales;  I did invest in a one piece that fits me perfectly and it is always commented upon;   some of the ones in cos and top shop looked fine, but no support at all and are fine as decorative bikini tops to your beachwear, but watch out if you are doing a lot of swimming.  another company with great costumes is sea folly – their one piece costumes are quite flattering styles.

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Maud and Mabel

of course I was going to like this shop – Maude is the name of my daughter and usually people are likeminded with unusual choices.   Maud and Mabel in Hampstead sells beautiful ceramics, a lot of porcelain, very Japanese in style, perfect place to feel inspired or to find a gift for that person who has everything.

i always prefer to buy from independent retailers – support the individual, buy something that hundreds won’t have;  but increasingly there are fewer of these shops around and sadly as they close, the multiple chains start to replace them.  here are a few of my favourite shops, some are out of london, but they are always on my list when i visit these places.  whenever i go to visit my mother, i always pop into moth in didsbury manchester;  the new general store tidy street in brighton has become a fave as well as workshop.   vanil in woodbridge has a lovely selection of gifts and homewares (including my book),   frank in whitstable has always been a firm favourite for artists works and gifts, cornercopia in brixton has great kitchen stuff, candles and other gifts.  choosing keeping in columbia road fulfils my passion for stationary and paper items – its something i have always collected – they make lovely gifts for just about anyone. also on columbia road is mason and painter, an interesting mix of vintage and new; native and co is a  japanese shop based in portobello selling beautiful tableware and gifts;  and of course my longtime favourite  shop is  summer hill and bishop,  there is the kitchen shop, plus tablecloths dyed to beautiful colours. I recently discovered the lovely Japanese run gift shop Momosan – beautiful stoneware ceramics exquisitely wrapped soaps, beeswax candles and lovely jewellery.   in spain my favourite shop is el antiguo correo,  which sells handicrafts from all around the world and the ajonjoli that sells moroccan flat bread and sweet pastries.  and of course i still love and support all the market stalls that pop up .  happy shopping! i picked these roses from my garden – roses are so beautiful, romantic, nature’s wonder…..

clouds

i absolutely love this song by joni mitchell

I look at clouds and see images and stories and start imagining all things….

Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
and feather canyons everywhere, I’ve looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things I would have done but clouds got in my way.

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now,
from up and down, and still somehow
it’s cloud illusions I recall.
I really don’t know clouds at all.

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way that you feel
as every fairy tale comes real; I’ve looked at love that way.
But now it’s just another show. You leave ’em laughing when you go
and if you care, don’t let them know, don’t give yourself away.

I’ve looked at love from both sides now,
from give and take, and still somehow
it’s love’s illusions that I recall.
I really don’t know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud, to say “I love you” right out loud,
dreams and schemes and circus crowds, I’ve looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads, they say
I’ve changed.
Something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day.

I’ve looked at life from both sides now,
from win and lose, and still somehow
it’s life’s illusions I recall.
I really don’t know life at all.

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beaches of Suffolk

there are a lot of beaches in suffolk, some are well known and frequented, others less so. but less than 10 mins drive from our cottage is kessingland beach – a relatively unspoilt beach which reminds me very much of dungeoness, with its pebble dunes and grasses, its definitely worth a morning walk.  you will spy fisherman, dog walkers and bird watchers from the adjoining Benacre nature reserve and is much less touristy in the summer months.   not far away in Thorpeness you can rent the house in the clouds –  originally intended to be a water supply in 1923 Glencairne Stuart Ogilvie with F. Forbes Glennie (architect) & H. G Keep (works manager) brilliantly disguised it as house, and so it looks like a mystical cottage high in the sky. Thorpeness is one of those strange towns – a bit like a disneyfied part of Switzerland,  mock Tudor houses are built around a Peter Pan boating lake, and 1930’s houses are built directly facing the long pebble beach. but my all time favourite beach is Covehithe, which happens to be the local beach to our cottage – beautifully windswept and unspoilt, its sadly receding coastline tumbles the trees into the shoreline, leaving eerie bleached out trunks and branches that give the beach an eerie quality.    I am discovering that Suffolk is a diverse and interesting coastline with much to explore.