the poppy

nature produces the most beautiful of shades – colours that can never be imitated.

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Following the trench warfare which took place in the poppy fields of Flanders, during the 1st World War, red poppies have become a symbol of remembrance of soldiers who have died during wartime.

Poppies have long been used as a symbol of both sleep and death: sleep because of the opium extracted from them, and death because of the common blood-red color of the red poppy in particular. In Greek and Roman myths, poppies were used as offerings to the dead.  Poppies used as emblems on tombstones symbolize eternal sleep. This symbolism was evoked in the children’s novel The wonderful wizard of oz, in which a magical poppy field threatened to make the protagonists to sleep forever. Oddly, the poppy field affected the film’s characters in the same order the cast members actually died.

doesnt this poppy remind you of the folds of a velvet dress?


Yellow is the most luminous of all the colors of the spectrum. It’s the color that captures our attention more than any other color.

It’s the color of happiness, and optimism, of enlightenment and creativity, sunshine and spring.

Lurking in the background is the dark side of yellow: cowardice, betrayal, egoism, and madness.

In almost every culture yellow represents sunshine, happiness, and warmth.



chocolate and berries

was lucky enough to try out the wonderful hand made chocolate nomnom chocolate, hand made in wales – SO DELICIOUS, especially the blackcurrant and apple crumble flavour.   from only loving white chocolate as a child, i now only like dark chocolate – apparently its a maturing of taste.  other beautiful chocolate shops in london, Rococo, Charbonnel and Walker, Paul A Young, too many to resist.

i love all berries, especially blackberries –  its funny how we can get them all year round now – low in calories, they are high in vitamin C and apparently their antioxidant compounds may ward off cancer, ageing, inflammation and neurological diseases!

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my favourite shops in Beijing were the tea shops, not only selling tea, but china, teapots, table mats, everything to make your tea time a beautiful experience.   we all now buy bags of tea as its easier to clean, but the ritual of leaves and a teapot makes it all the more special.  here are a few of the pots that I brought home.  the pu’er tea was a gift from my daughter last year and they are cherished like good old wines, the maturity and process of fermentation dictates the price, some we saw went up to thousands of pounds. I loved the simple packaging.


I will always remember when alice treated me for mothers day to afternoon tea at the teanamu chaya teahouse – it truly is a memorable experience to savour, especially if you are into the rituals of perfect chinese tea.   its definitely a girly treat, attention to detail with water temperature, beautiful oriental teapots and tableware.   the choice of teas is vast and beguiling, but Pei – the proprietor gracefully advises you what best suits your palate.  its definitely something to learn about, and coincidentally you can book onto a 2 hour masterclass to understand the making of tea and its ceremony.

you can also have courses in tea rituals at Mei Leaf  and tea tastings at postcard teas and for a big selection of interesting teas to buy try my cup of tea.

there is a tea shop in aldeburgh that sells pu’er tea and a great selection of other teas plus its nice for lunch – the Cragg Sisters tea room.

Sainsbury centre

I didn’t realise how quick the journey from the cottage to Norwich is, 45 mins drive, so maria and i made our way to the infamous centre for the arts,  which was designed around 1974 , the Sainsbury Centre being  the first major public building designed by the now renowned architect Norman Foster.   although its over 40 years old, it still feels so modern – somewhere between an aircraft hangar and  oversized shed – it houses the amazing collection donated by Robert and Lisa Sainsbury.   the ground floor of the gallery houses the highly recognisable works of Degas – the beautiful bronzed ballerina, Bacon and Chillida – an incredible collection of art, and this floor is free to see and wander around.  at present there is an exhibition of Russian art, alongside the frivolous Faberge eggs and Tatlin’s structure, and some beautiful pots by Lucy Rie.  the roomy and lofty cafe overlooks the gardens that adjoin the university campus are a nice place to take a coffee.

afterwards we drove to the city centre and  had a bite to eat at cafe 33;  previously I had lunch in the very healthy vegetarian restaurant ‘wild thyme’, and apparently the library has been recommended.



if you are thinking of different ways to arrange flowers, why not use utensil jugs or tin canisters to hold the flowers in – also using thistles or grasses can be lovely.   i recently  bought these beautiful blue thistles from columbia market and they lasted for ages.    did you know that the thistle represents strength, protection and healing?



grouping similar type of containers is also effective, so instead of putting everything into one vase, split your flowers into several jugs.  if you are looking for girly gifts and pretty ideas for xmas, have a look at the lavender room, they also sell a set of 6 pretty moroccan glasses, which you can put one flower in each glass – they have a beautiful shop in brighton, but you can also buy online.



how did halloween get to be such an important event in the uk – i dont remember this as a child.  i do remember toffee apples and burning the guy fawkes for bonfire night though.

the custom of trick-or-treating and the use of “jack-o’-lanterns” comes from Ireland. hundreds of years ago, Irish farmers went from house to house, begging for food, in the name of their ancient gods, to be used at the village Halloween celebration. they would promise good luck to those who gave them good, and made threats to those who refused to give. they simply told the people, “You treat me, or else I will trick you!”

Happy halloween!!

nobody really knows how halloween originated, but since the 19C , 31st october has acquired a reputation as a night on which witches, ghosts and fairies are especially active.

in the year 835 AD the Roman Catholic Church made 1st November a church holiday to honour all the saints. although it was a joyous holiday it was also the eve of All Souls Day, so in Medieval times it became customary to pray for the dead on this date.

another name for All Saints Day is ‘All Hallows‘ (hallow is an archaic English word for ‘saint’). the festival began on All Hallows Eve, the last night of October.

halloween comes from all hallow even, the eve(night before) All Hallows Day.  Therefore halloween is the eve of all saints day.

its always been a big tradition in america, but over the recent years, it has now become a big event for kids in england.  maude has already cut out the pumpkin to light and bought the sweets to hand out to all the little children who come round all cutely dressed up.