International Women’s day

Sunday is officially named international women’s day to celebrate equality for women, from simply being more appreciated, respected and loved to acknowledging economic, social and political achievements – i think that every day should be like this whether you are female or not –  so many women are undervalued, especially the role of a mother.

i admire that quite a few of my girlfriends have changed their careers and now are amazing therapists – nutritionist, osteopathy, pilates, hygienist, psychotherapist and  acupuncture – plus i get to learn more about natural therapy and am treated to more alternatives to standard medicine!

i love that women are not challenged by anything – dont ever think that you are too old to start something new!  i was inspired by the fact that Julia Margaret Cameron started her photography career at 48.  I have changed my career so many times and each one has been fulfilling and challenging but also full of good memories.

Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou

The incredibly prolific and inspiring American poet, author of seven autobiographies, actress, civil-rights activist, producer and director passed away in 2014, leaving behind a huge volume of work celebrating black beauty, the strength of women, and the human spirit. In 2017 her life was celebrated in the documentary Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise, which featured interviews with Oprah Winfrey, Hilary Clinton, Quincy Jones and Maya Angelou herself.

‘You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.’

i  started to volunteer at the bay tree centre in brixton about 5 years ago – a centre for women and their daughters of all nationalities to go and learn english, further their studies in the essentials of education – reading, science and other skills, but also fun activities like cooking, dancing and art.  there is a strong emphasis on social inclusion, encouraging equality in development and supporting them to think out of their box and achieve whatever their dreams may desire.  after school, the centre serves for the local ethnic children whose parents don’t speak much English and need help with their homework and studies, but in the day, the centre helps refugee children – these are usually older girls in their teen years- who are awaiting school places.

it reminds me of my own life, from a single ethnic mother whose father departed when I was five leaving my mother to work long hours as a waitress to feed three young children;  I had to look after my 2 younger brothers, get them to school – she was never able to go to parents evening, nobody to help with my homework, she could barely speak English but then I never wanted for anything, there was always food on the table and clothes when I needed them.  through sheer hard work, a lot of luck and determination, I have enjoyed a happy and family life in london.  i would have loved a centre like Baytree, but I dont think that these type of places existed then.  its harder to get jobs now and to get onto the housing ladder – and this is definitely so in london, but out of london I think its still possible, you have to want it and work towards it and wish a bit of luck.

You only need to offer an hour a week, every little helps.  you don’t have to be a qualified teacher – I have no training – you just have to be enthusiastic and patient – but its very rewarding

 

 

kimono – kyoto to catwalk

a must see exhibition – the beautiful kimonos on show start with antiques from the 1700 and follows the history of the kimono, from everyday wear,  special occasion, theatrical to modern day versions – including the lovely wood cut prints, hand made books containing all the designs and the actual garments themselves.  I was very proud to attend with my friend Kim, of Bentley and Spens who for several years designed the fabrics specifically to be made up into Kimonos, and one of her designs was chosen for the exhibition – the black and white seahorses that I picture here.  not just for the women and textile designers, this show is beautifully created and presented – even my husband loved it!

 

furoshiki

back to being eco and inventive – another gift that yuki bought me last xmas  all beautifully wrapped with a silk scarf ;   furoshiki  is what they call it, and I didnt know much about it, though i did photograph something similar for jane brockets stitching book. 

once I watched the you tube, i was fascinated – how delightful to be able to pay for something in a shop, take out your scarf and make a bag to take your purchase home in!  its eco, green and makes you look super talented – better get practising.  in the meantime, you can give any square piece of fabric, but I did notice in brixton village there was a great african shop – african queen selling batique materials.

also makes a lovely alternative way for wrapping a present!  and if you are really green you could take it shopping with you and then wrap up your purchases with your scarf.

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Pancake Tuesday

we will never forget pancake tuesday, my daughter maude just loves this night – its always a family tradition to have pancakes at tea time or after dinner – sadly this year she is away at uni, so I made pancakes for my boys for breakfast….

traditionally shrove tuesday is the day before ash wednesday when lent starts.   its considered a last feast with ingredients such as sugar, fat and eggs,  whose consumption was traditionally restricted during the ritual fasting associated with lent.  i have tried to remove the typical sugar, wheat and gluten from my diet – advice from many of my friends – but I am afraid that i have tried and tried and find it impossible to stick to.  I do reduce it when I can and especially the sugar aspect, as it appears that my sugar levels are too high – which can lead to diabetes.

my kids will usually have them savoury with ham and  fried eggs, or sweet with nutella,  blueberries, bananas or plain old sugar and lemon.  i used to measure them out all perfect with delia’s foolproof recipe, but now i can just add all the ingredients, beat it all with a whisk and  add the milk until i reach the right consistency – it really is so easy, i cant believe that i see ready made pancakes for sale in the shops! remember you can change the flour for gluten free, the milk for almond milk or soya, adapt it to your dietary needs.  now that Maude is vegan, we have learned to adapt all our recipes so that she is included and we are not cooking twice.

for Eilleen

i can’t believe that 9 years have passed by – and i know that eilleen woke up every day with a smile on her face, she so enjoyed each day.

“Beautiful”

You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You’re gonna find, yes, you will
That you’re beautiful as you feel

Waiting at the station with a workday wind a-blowing
I’ve got nothing to do but watch the passers-by
Mirrored in their faces I see frustration growing
And they don’t see it showing, why do I?

You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You’re gonna find, yes, you will
That you’re beautiful as you feel

I have often asked myself the reason for sadness
In a world where tears are just a lullaby
If there’s any answer, maybe love can end the madness
Maybe not, oh, but we can only try

You’ve got to get up every morning with a smile on your face
And show the world all the love in your heart
Then people gonna treat you better
You’re gonna find, yes, you will
That you’re beautiful as you feel

Carole King

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street markets

street markets have always existed, in roman civilisation the forum originated as an open market where tradesmen sold and swapped their wares;  markets are the heart and soul of any community- they were meeting places, the hub of trading – sadly towards the end of the last century, developers decided that we preferred closed shopping centres – huge malls filled with universal stores – but thankfully, our natural demand has harkened back to our roots and everybody loves a street market again.    even great cities like london and paris still hold street markets – selling the necessary basics from fruit and meat to luxuries such as chocolate and even cashmere.   i remember stumbling upon the open air market on president wilson, in paris,  with its beautiful displays of flowers, cheeses, chocolates – it was rows and rows of vendors bang in the middle of the main road.

venice fish and fruit market, open daily in the mornings is a thriving market, not just for the locals, but for the local restaurants that serve the many tourists that frequent venice.

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i cant believe that each time i go to  bermondsey it rains- again i went with my food gourmand neighbour Mick and it rained.  the produce is very high quality and definitely makes for a special meal.  dont think that anyone can afford to do all their daily shopping there.   i still think that borough market is a great mornings visit and its open more days now, but bermondsey is definitely the new place to visit and be excited by the different flavours .

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you have to make space for the delicious home made ice cream from la grotta ices – the choice of flavours are delicious, but the dark chocolate choc ices are the ones that you should savour.  remember to bring an ice box to take some home.

bermondsey is  only open on a saturday morning. and as well as seeing inspiring and well produced food,  its also a great source for gifts – from beeswax candles and jars of honey,  bottles of olive oil,  and beautifully packaged tea in silk muslin. – perfect for that person who doesnt want any more clutter, but likes to savour quality foods.  i picked up some beautiful beets from natoora foods – it made my salad look impressive – grate finely to add colour and crunch and goodness ! the pomegranates and  clementines with leaves are exceptionally juicy too.

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its good to start off at spa terminus, with a coffee at monmouth coffee and eat your way through delicious croissants from little bread pedlar, – my favourite is the fruit danish and the wonderful mini bread and butter puddings and then seek out the london honeys,  the beautiful vegetables at natoora and cheeses and italian ham.

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the railway arches make for  innovative displays for the massive array of interesting products to be bought.  in the week, all of the producers use the spaces to wholesale from and on a saturday they open to the public – you will recognise a lot of the brands, st john bread and wine, peyton and byrne, neale’s yard – but some of the newer smaller brands are a great discovery.   ropewalk is a good final stop for a sit down, a glass of wine and a visit to lassco – for great architectural salvage (though very expensive), but a good source of ideas.

there is everything from spanish tapas, salt beef, smoked salmon and cocktails.   its really fun and next time i go, i hope its not raining.

be warned, the prices are quite high, and although a few take credit cards they all seem to only take cash;  so come with your budget for the day and treat it as a culinary experience!

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love this video of petticoat lane from 1926.  notice that its mainly men in hats.

buttons

are you always losing buttons? do you find them in the rim of the washing machine door?  or do you find that buttons are just not secured so well these days and fall of so quickly.    i now put all my lost and found buttons in a simple glass jam jar and hang it in the bathroom.  you can buy a little pack of beautiful white assorted buttons from one of the stalls in Portobello Green Market under the westway.  On a Friday morning, there are 2 haberdasher type stalls selling vintage cotton reels and ribbons, one is in the covered part of the market and the other is on the street just in front of the Cloth Shop.

a haberdashers/ fabric/ art shop has just opened on camden high street – selling everything from wool, needles, fabric dye and simple art products – its just opposite Boots in what was the kitchen shop, which is sorely missed.   you can also  find a nice selection  at  whitstable fabric and haberdashery,  who has everything you need to repair and update any dress, trimmings, fabrics, buttons, its what every high street should have!

for a  big choice of buttons  the button queen  has an amazing choice of antique and modern buttons – sadly no longer on Marylebone lane, but they do online.  they will even cover buttons to match your garment, taking the fabric from a hem or seam.  taylors also cover buttons and sells a range of vintage buttons and is a very quirky atmospheric shop.   old button shop on kings road also sells a good range of buttons, and they will post to anywhere in the world.  Moya Smith sells lots of brass buttons and old cutlery at Portobello Antiques market. 

and VV Rouleaux have a good selection alongside their fabulous ribbons and trimmings.  DM buttons and buttonholes are right in the heart of soho and has a vast array of buttons and button services – you can even get buttons with your initials on them.

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