Mersea Island

Orford is one of the prettiest villages en route to the cottage, with its Georgian houses, village square and church – its also a spot for sailing, bird watching and good food.  there is the famous  Pump St bakery and simple seafood at Butley Oysterage – which is real hearty food, quite similar to the style you get at St John restaurant.  I really recommend the doughnuts and Eccles cakes from Pump St.  there is also the hotel and restaurant  the Crown and Castle  that does a good set lunch on a Sunday – its more grown up from the other restaurants, but still a nice spot to visit. Orford also has a castle to explore too.

if you continue to travel towards the essex border you will find Manningtree, situated on the river Stour, with the village of Mistley a short walk away.  Mistley retains some of the grain mills by the quay – glorious victorian warehouses that tell stories of years gone by.  we had delicious lunch at Mistley Thorn – offering  a daily special menu that is very good value.  close by is the North House Gallery, set on the ground floor of a handsome georgian house, which has a beautiful curation of works, usually landscapes and in the back room wonderful letterpress machines used by the curator herself.   Mistley kitchen not only sells a selection of cookery utensils, but hosts a variety of cookery courses.  and less than 15 mins drive away is Flatford, the home of John Constable.

Just a bit further is Mersea Island with its great sea food restaurants;  as it was a Monday, there was only the west Mersea oyster bar open, which was good enough food with a lovely outside terrace onto the water – you can get the usual fish and chips, lobster, oysters and roasted fish.  it really is an industrious working harbour.  the other recommended restaurant is the Company Shed.

we also took a walk along Frinton on Sea with its spectacular 1930’s houses and long sandy beach and beach huts – very quiet and gentle, it was hard to believe that it was the middle of August.  however, I don’t think that there are any recommended restaurants in Frinton, but worth going to see the architecture.


true music

Time is expressed

in the heart

of an instrument

Something that stops

in the heart of a man

Time is the wall and the space around

Time is the tree a life that resounds

Time to adore and time to go

To give to the fisherman

the slippers of Rome

the whirling embrace

the arms of the fold

to gather together

the swirl of the leaves

turning and falling

returning as thee

to the clay of creation

tho your children will hold

the wave of your hand

the smile of your soul….

Patti Smith


women and art

women artists are finally  being acknowledged and recognised – the Tate has recently shown the beautiful textiles and designs of Anni Albers who was overshadowed by her husband Josef Albers and now they are showing the interesting and very diverse paintings of the Russian artist Natalia Goncharova. Prolific in her 80 plus years of painting, her style varies so much  that at times its hard to believe that one person could create all those genres;  the overriding theme is that ‘anything goes in art’.

At the Barbican Lee Krasner is a rage of colour and you can probably guess from her style that her husband was Jackson Pollack – hence being left in the shadows.   Helene Schjerfbeck is on at the Royal Academy, and again produced a vast amount of work in her 80 years too;  her paintings are a beautiful soft palette of greys and muted tones with a smudge of red rouge on the lips.  I particularly loved a lot of her portraits – I feel that there is a  mood of my photographs and so I was very glad to find her work;  a lot of her subjects gaze away from the viewer, but what is outstanding is the one room of self portraits – you can feel the ageing process without it being obviously painted – the interplay of shadow and light telling the story….

there is also an exhibition of shoes by Manolo Blahnick – cleverly interspersed in the regal rooms of the Wallace collection.  note that the shoes seem to be similar to those in the nearby paintings from the 17C and 18C.     I love that the Wallace collection is entirely free – it has an amazing collection of early works, which can get lost in the splendour of the rooms with their richly decorative furnishings and wallpaper, which are so interesting themselves.   enjoy a cream tea in the covered courtyard.

I rarely visit the new Design museum, but my friend Maria got me a free ticket to see a viewing of the new documentary Bauhaus 100 – that simply explains the history of Bauhaus Design, which is 100 years old and started by Walter Gropius;  it traces the growth and movement until it finally ended with the rise of power of Nazi Germany – it was seen to be too progressive and away from German tradition, promoting liberalism.   with its centenary, this autumn sees a handful of events to commemorate the occasion including one at the William Morris gallery.  lots of Bauhaus designers were forced to emigrate worldwide to escape persecution.  Anne Albers was one of those artists.  catch the documentary on BBC 4 arts.

we are so lucky to live in a city which has a constantly changing arts programme, a lot of it is free and open every day;  whenever you feel to be inspired, just take a morning looking around a gallery, it will really lift your spirits…..


postcard teas

i love tea of all types – i discovered just around the corner from me, mei leaf, which has a huge variety of black and green teas, plus lots of great tea pots and one pot filter systems.  after lazily buying tea bags i have now decided that i like the old fashioned loose tea, so all those one pot cafetieres especially for tea are ideal. also at chinalife  you can get a 20 min massage or find lots of books about health and advice on chinese medicine.  teasmith in spitalfields is a much more refined and designed oriental style tea house, beautifully presented the packs of tea makes a wonderful gift, a couple of beautiful japanese ceramic beakers plus beautifully packaged tea.  postcard teas is definitely for you tea conossieurs and has teas from all over the world – definitely more selective and pricy, but exquisitively packaged and presented.

moody month

moody month was built by women for women, its an app that gives the information with empathy and intuitiveness from a team of amazing experts from doctors, gynaecologists and endocrinologists, including the lovely Lola Ross, who I had the pleasure of photographing.    food and nutrition can play a big part in balancing your body and changing your moods.  read more about Lola in this months Whistles women blog.

small island

the last of my husband’s presents for his big birthday were tickets to the National theatre to see Small Island –  one of his favourite buildings in london.   as we were away, I had to find presents small and light enough to pack in the suitcase to give him to open up on his birthday.  it was beautifully staged, a well written script with great actors and touched upon issues that are profoundly shaming and moving.  it finishes very soon and I would definitely recommend it – my son got one of the £10 tickets that they offer, but I see that this is now the £15 day ticket.    it was a lovely warm day, so we decided to turn up early at Skylon restaurant at the Royal Festival Hall for their pre theatre dinner offer, and then walked along the riverside, passing the children cooling themselves in the water fountains –  to the National – it really is a lovely thing to do on a balmy summer evening in london.  I also loved the hologram of ‘all kinds of limbo’ – I am always amazed at what can be done these days.

the best thing is during interval time stepping out on the balcony and viewing london in twilight – you forget what a great city London is despite the crowds, noise and pollution.



i have to admit that i have never been a walker, but when climbing the cliffs of St Agnes  in Cornwall you want to walk even longer to see more of the wonderful views.  a one hour stroll towards Perranporth gives you stunning vistas – the English seaside and countryside is breathtaking – the wild flowers are incredibly abundant and beautiful.  apparently if you walk for more than 30 minutes a day, it helps keep you not only healthy, less depressed but also strengthens your bones!