jewellery

I don’t like lots of jewellery, but i love delicate and unusual pieces.  my favourite jeweller is Peppi Taylor, but unfortunately, she is one of those types who is incredibly arty, but totally non techno, so has no website.   her pieces can be something simple and inexpensive such as a silver charm on a thread, or  you can commission a ring in gold and precious stones.  i personally love her rows of semi precious stones, such as rose quartz, amethyst, all delicately threaded with a gold charm.  most of my jewellery has been made by peppi, and when it was Alice’s and Maude’s 21st, i commissioned a small piece for her.   you can contact Peppi on peppitaylor2@gmail.com or 07952 864357

i passed by laura lee’s shop in covent garden,   there are some beautiful pieces there too.

another reader recommended rust  – again interesting and more aimed for the younger girls.

pearl and queenie have fun necklaces, i love the cameo on a chain.

sweet pea is also another lovely shop, stocking not only their own designs but a few other designers too..

in Paris 5 Octobre have some lovely pieces, and some very affordable.

another place to find interesting jewellery is at Dover Street Market. always inspiring clothes too, including Simone Rocha, Cecille Bahnsen as well as the Comme des Garcons collections.

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collections

i love my little collection of icons and religious bits, everything from tin paintings and painted cross from mexico, a string of  coffee beans from jamaica,  a thread of shells, metal spanish crosses  and some photos by my daughter alice…….  memories from your travels also brings a warm feeling to one’s heart, especially at this time when we are unable to freely travel….  I am really missing our house in Spain, this will be the first year for 20 years that we have not had a family holiday there……..fingers crossed that next summer will be back to more normality.

trying to get back a bit of normality….

I cant believe that its been 6 months since all this strangeness commenced…..  life is not back to normal, but at least you can go and do a few things to enlighten and inspire……  it does take a bit of organisation though, booking tickets to the Tate and Royal Academy can be difficult to get dates that you want, but its worth just planning ahead and put it in your diary.   Warhol and Beardsley are both interesting and yet so different.  I didn’t  know much about Beardsley, and found him fascinating – he sadly died at 25 years old with TB, but in his short life, he produced so much work, so detailed and monochromatic, but beautiful to look at.  Beardsley worked on lots of books, and so they are quite ‘fairy tale ‘ and mythological.   Leon Spilliaert is somebody new to me, again very illustrative and quite ‘dark’ in his outlook, lots of landscapes.  I really enjoyed learning about 2 new artists.  I have already booked ahead for Gauguin  and the Impressionists and Tracy Emin and Edvard Munch.   I don’t usually have a Royal Academy membership, but I bought one earlier in the year to visit Picasso exhibition and if you go more than 3 times a year, it does make it worth it.    The one good thing about Covid is that you can finally visit an exhibition and have space and time to see the paintings, without feeling rushed and crowded And it does take you away from real life and you can feel inspired and enjoy the wonders of art.

 

tea towels

i cant seem to keep my tea towels clean, even with bleaching – so i have decided that its easier to buy cheaper tea towels and then throw them away when they look  so stained and terrible;  which means all my lovely vintage linen goes into a box and replaced with the functional, simple cotton with blue/red stripe teatowels or their value 10 pack from dennys . if you go into the shop you can buy them singularly, but these are so affordable and look great in any kitchen.

other great choices are of course ikea and kempton market where clever stall holders take the time to make them out of old rolls of linen;  the market is usually on the 2nd and last tuesday of every month.

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fashion illustration

I have always loved fashion drawings, especially those from the 1940’s and 50’s and tonight I watched a live masterclass through the wonderful Gray MCA gallery, who arranged a live Q and A with the illustrator Gladys Perint Palmer and a  film recording in which Gladys executes 4 large scale drawings for you live.  It was fascinating to see her at work, using several different mediums, she swiftly and confidently drew images from the collections of Alexander McQueen, which she captured with such accuracy in her lively individual style.  Gladys’ drawings are so full of life, movement and capture the mood and flavour of the clothes and design.  They are more painterly and she herself says her biggest influence is Toulouse Lautrec  and you can definitely see this.   Gray MCA are worth following as they have so many interesting exhibitions and events.

I am not a big fan of everything going through the computer, but in this case, it opens up a great opportunity for everyone around the world to join and watch together and learn from these great masters.  you can watch again on Vimeo.

also interesting is the  documentary film about McQueen  its a wonderfully moving tribute to the designer – emotional and very interesting it follows the rise of the designer Alexander McQueen and proves what a creative inspirational mind he had.  I remember seeing the show ‘savage beauty’ and thinking how beautiful the clothes were, each one an art piece.   the film follows its thread through his collections, which are all art pieces – the stories, the themes – all show an eclectic brilliant mind.

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plums

plums are in season at the moment and are a good source of vitamin C and although they taste sweet, apparently dont spike your sugar levels; if you are lucky enough to have a plum tree, then this is the time to make plum jam,  i just discovered that there is a plum tree at the end of my suffolk garden…..

Plum Jam

1.5 kilos plums
500 g   3:1 jam sugar (for 3 parts fruit to 1 part jam sugar)
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 cloves
1 vanilla bean
1 glug lemon juice. (ie 2 tablespoons)

Wash the plums. Take stones out and cut. (I cut every half in 2-3 pieces)
Mix fruit, juice, sugar and spices (vanilla bean scratched out but adding the outside too).

Slowly bring to a boil. Boil heavily for 3 minutes (according to sugar package).

Fill into sterilized jars – discarding vanilla bean and other spices.  (an easy way is to wrap in muslin so making it easy to remove)

 

corn moon

tonight is the last full moon of the summer  known as the ‘corn moon’ – so called because it signals the time when corn, pumpkins, squash, beans and wild rice – the chief indian staples are ready for gathering.  it should be full for around 3 days, so try and look out for it.  here is the full moon on the Padstow estuary – its the view from my friends’ house and the last photo is actually taken tonight.

This full Moon corresponds to the Chinese Hungry Ghost Festival. The seventh month of the Chinese calendar is the Ghost Month and the fifteenth day of this month (a full Moon day) is called Ghost Day, on which ghosts and spirits, including those of deceased ancestors, come out to visit the living.

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a farewell

So we lay my mother at rest a few weeks ago with a spiritual Chinese ceremony; I never thought that I would do this, but for some reason, lockdown with time to reflect and think, urged me to acknowledge our Chinese heritage and arrange something that I remember that she herself had done for her 2nd partner. Of course it was a lot more difficult with social distance and the limit of guests, but it really was a beautiful day.

So I have learned a lot about Chinese traditions and superstitions whilst arranging my mother’s funeral.  strangely I haven’t really lived a very Chinese life, but I have grown up listening to my mother and her strange ramblings and phrases, and now I am understanding where they originated from and what they mean.

we decided to use Chinese funeral directors, partly as they were recommended by the community centre that my mother visited twice a week – a social centre run for the ‘Older people’ in the Chinese community, providing a place for them to go and meet other friends, play Mah Jong, do a bit of Tai Chi, where they basically feel that they are still part of a community.  Manchester has quite a big Chinese population, so there seems to be a ‘Chinese everything’ from hairdressers, solicitors to funeral directors.

The service started like any traditional funeral in the chapel with an introduction, prayer and words of thanks, but then we moved to the graveside, where we lay out a folding table, put a photograph of our mother on it, a bowl of her favourite food (noodles and veg in this case), and incense sticks which we all in turn lit and put into a sand bowl. we burned bullions of paper money, folded to increase the wealth, which gave my mother funds to start her new life.  we also had a travel document made with the name of her home village in China, so that if she decided to travel home, she has the permission document to do this – again this was burned.   In her coffin, we all left letters and gifts, and when the coffin was lowered into the earth, we all had to turn our backs and not look at this moment, but once the coffin was below ground, we three children were asked to check that the coffin was in straight and that we were happy with the way it looked.  the photograph and the flowers were buried along with the coffin, which means you don’t actually see the flowers.  Also as I am  the married daughter it is traditional to lay a blanket or cloth on the body, but as my mother loved to wear silk headscarves, I gave a silk handkerchief –  this all adds to her comfort for her journey.   When deciding on the rituals, we were offered pages and pages of paper replicas of computers, iPhones, food to have made and put in the coffin…..  apparently people choose the deceased’s  favourite things to remind them of their fruitful life.

There is some strange Chinese 3 year tradition that you shouldn’t celebrate anything after the death of a close relative, but to neutralise this superstition, the females of the family wear a flower clip and the males wear a black ribbon.  at the end of the ceremony, you throw your clip and ribbon into a firebowl, and then you step over the bowl with its flames.  This now means you only have to wait 100 days, rather than the 3 years.  I try to tell myself that superstitions are not for real, but once you know about them, it’s hard to ignore them and so we did follow a few of the suggestions  – I know that my mother would have wanted this and it all makes for an easy passing to the new life.

we even managed to have a traditional wake lunch, which consisted of 7 courses, the first being a sweet soup – the sweet after the bitter. the courses again were chosen to avoid certain foods, like beef, melon.  I am not sure of why, but again we obeyed the rules.

It was all very interesting and made for a very memorable and special celebration of my mother’s life.  we were very lucky that we were allowed 20 people at the funeral, I know its been such a difficult time in history  to organise a funeral and I feel so sorry for those who couldn’t even attend their own beloved’s farewell.  I feel fortunate that we had the small window of more freedom, just before the north locked down again.

of course there are lots of interpretations of funerals and traditions, and now people are turning to more modern ways, but I feel it was a wonderful memorial and enabled me to learn more about the Chinese and their customs.

Why I love this photo of my mother and my children, is because it reminds me of her strength and determination to be independent and self sufficient in both her life as mother and wage earner. Her smile is what I will always remember – even after her stroke and then recently her dementia, she would always smile. I now realise that I have taken her desire to forgo the male dominated Chinese culture and hence all the women in our family are the most vocal and dominant.

 

majorelle blue

the Majorelle gardens are painted with this amazing blue – it reminds me of the lovely  casa polopa hotel  with its beautiful stencilled walls and also of the frida kahlo house.   you can try the majorelle blue paint from bristol paints – it would indeed be a bold statement to paint one of your walls or your garden this intense shade of blue.  stencilling is another lovely idea to try – if it looks really terrible, paint it in and start again in another colour!

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visit the beautiful jardin majorelle in marrakesh,  originally landscaped by Jacques Majorelle, the gardens opened in 1947 to the public, but after his death in the 60’s, the gardens were acquired by Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge who kept up its existence and enchanting condition.   it truly is a tropical paradise with its water lily ponds, intense blue and exotic plants.

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For an offbeat travel experience in the Mexico City area, you really must consider this visit to the Museo Frida Kahlo in Coyoacan. Hidden behind high cobalt blue walls at the corner of Londres and Allende in this charming southwestern suburb, the museo is where the surrealist artist Frida Kahlo was born, grew up and later lived with her muralist husband Diego Rivera, from 1941 until her death at age 47 in 1954. Fascinating not only for the collections and personal effects of the two great artists it contains, the museum also affords a window on the lifestyles of affluent Mexican bohemians during the first half of this century.  its a long time since i have been back to mexico, but this will be high on my list again.

iris

every week i seem to have a favourite flower –  basically i think that i love all flowers – white irises remind me of the wings of a dove – apparently  the white iris symbolises purity and kindness; in Japan, it is believed that the Iris flower has the power to purify the body and protect the household from disease and evil.  for me, all flowers have the wonderful tool to change emotions, stir calm and emotion – they are natures w o n d e r.

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