moment in time

April 4, 2020

When Covid 19 erupted, my family and I were happily cocooned among the cranes, palm trees and mellow sunsets of Anna Maria Island. Islands have a way of removing us from reality, and even the headlines couldn’t puncture our rose tinted bubble. When news that England would be closing its borders reached us, we were catapulted into reality. My Mum was with us, and it was clear that catching the next flight home was the right thing for her to do. It was an abrupt ending to a beautiful week together. The following 48-hours were surreal, as we held on to the sweet ignorance of where we were, while knowing we were flying home to a very different life. Sunsets are an occasion worth turning up for, especially on Anna Maria Island. Our children have learned to embrace them, and see the beauty and majesty in them. I shall always remember that last sunset on Anna Maria; local children playing in the surf, old men standing guard by their fishing rods, families admiring their sandcastles, Iole, Antimo and Luma racing against the wind. Sometimes, as a moment unfolds, we just know to pay attention. We just know that it’s significant.

follow the line

April 3, 2020

I came across the work of artist, Lari Washburn yesterday and I wanted to share it. It looks like Washburn uses a mix of acrylic paints, watercolours and inks to create patterns and textures that hone in on elements of nature. Her sketchbook is a feast for the eyes, filled with mindful doodles that may inspire us all to turn on some Sigur Ros and put pen to paper. Have a look at her ceramics, so delicate and heartfelt.

all welcome

April 2, 2020

When we bought our little Annex Victorian in 2007, the home came with a drab front door. We were so excited, and overwhelmed by our grand purchase, that the door wasn’t something we thought about for at least five years. My neighbour, Su and I used to take long walks around the neighbourhood, and on one of our many wanders we saw a beautiful pinkish/orange coloured door that inspired me to paint our charmless brown one a similar colour. I looked at twenty shades of coral, and finally picked a winner. It was called persimmon, and I loved it. A few years later, after a wonderful week in London where cobalt blue, racing green and scarlet red doors are in abundance, I felt ready for a change. We settled on a turquoise, and again I spent hours pouring over paint chips to find the right shade. In the end, the one we chose was a bit too toothpaste turquoise, but it was bright and cheerful, and in a city of drab doors, it stood out, and shouted, “Welcome!” Over the many years, I have amassed well over a hundred photographs of our children, and all the neighbourhood children, standing on our porch, a bright beacon of colour behind them. This morning, when my friend Alison sent me a photograph of our turquoise door unhinged, and propped up against the neon orange safety fencing, I felt pangs of nostalgia. Goodbye old door, thanks for having us.

sugar high

April 1, 2020

As a kid, I loved making meringue. It was the perfect whisk-it-in-a-bowl and bung-it-in-the-oven treat. There was no cream of tartar or zesty lemon juice in my recipe. And there was zero precision or artistry to my method. Barring the odd oven fire, my meringues came out pretty okay, and with little fuss. The perfect meringue is soft and gooey on the inside and crunchy on the outside. It’s my Mum’s go-to pudding: meringues crushed up into pretty glass bowls and topped with thick cream and every kind of berry. This recipe has many more steps than I ever took, and my guess is that her meringues will have a fluffier and more nuanced texture than my sugary messes ever did. But oh, were they fun to make.

all aboard

March 31, 2020

Emilie Grigsby (1876 – 1964) was an American socialite who led a colourful life. An affair with a much older, wealthy tycoon landed her a New York mansion and money enough to live a lavish life. Wildly beautiful, and very generous, Grigsby became a patron of artists, sculptors, musicians and writers. She moved to England in 1912, and regularly travelled between Europe and New York on the Olympic, Aquitania and Lusitania liners. W.B. Yeats and sculptor, Auguste Rodin were frequent guests at Grigsby’s Mayfair home, and an obituary in The Times said that “she could out entertain her rivals with wines and cooking beyond their ken.” One of her steamer trunks, and a few cocktail dresses, was part of a recent V&A exhibition, now sadly closed. The silk georgette and glass beaded ‘salambo’ dress was designed by Jeanne Lanvin in Paris in 1925. Oh, the parties these frocks would have seen.

china store

March 30, 2020

Who has room for more than one set of dishes? It’s decadent, for sure, but I love the idea of a walk-in cupboard dedicated to china. Modern plates, rustic ones, grand and old fashioned ones. What fun to mix and match them all.

outside the lines

March 30, 2020

This isn’t a colour combination that I’d typically gravitate to –– lilacs and lavenders aren’t my thing –– but I do love this decor. It’s Italian architect Roberto Baciocchi’s home in Tuscany which makes it all the more interesting. I love the watercolour effect of the lilac, and how it contrasts with that fierce flaming red. Such contrasts make life more interesting.

unfamiliar familiar

March 28, 2020

As human beings, it’s natural to seek out something familiar in the unfamiliar. How often have you visited a foreign city for the first time and drawn references to your home town? Or to another familiar city? The tiles in the hotel lobby remind me of the tiles in my old school gym. I love how cities built on rivers all have a distinctly unique left and right bank life. Drawing connections is intrinsically human; it’s how we find our place in the world. So here we all are, facing an utterly unfamiliar situation, that has many of us referencing our personal archives in the hopes of finding something familiar. A road map, perhaps. I wrote about bedrest the other day, and how that felt like a quarantine of sorts. And I’ve also found myself comparing this period to those often discombobulating days between Christmas and New Year when the shops are shut, people flee the city, and we have no idea what day of the week it is. A pregnancy lasts nine months. The holidays last a week. Maybe, two. This scenario could go on for months. And we’re not sure what life will look like on the other side. But what we do know, is that we’ve all navigated challenges, and that we’ll navigate this one, too. And that yes, while the unpredictability, and unprecedented nature of all this is unnerving, there is also freedom, hope and opportunity in the uniqueness of it all.

wall to wall

March 27, 2020

I really like densely packed picture walls, the more eclectic the better. I like to see a mix of photographs, drawings and paintings. It need not be fancy, but the best picture walls are personal and reflect their creators. An iconic magazine cover or record sleeve, some old postcards and heirloom photographs, some children’s art, a love letter, a report card, some pressed leaves, matchbooks and eye popping prints can all look wonderful. Vary your frame styles –– from ultra minimal to gaudy and ornate –– and don’t fret too much about placement. The more higgledy-piggledy the better. This one here is pretty great.

born to run

March 26, 2020

Both my parents are runners. My Mum was an amazing sprinter at school, and up until recently, my Dad ran marathons. They always won the Mum and Dad’s races at sports day which made my brother and I feel pretty chuffed. My dad used to go on long runs with our Great Dane, Magnus, it’s how he stayed fit and kept his stress levels down. He owns about thirty pairs of trainers, most of which he’s had for almost as many years. My brother is a runner, and for about five years I ran daily, also. I ran in blizzards, and in blazing heat. I ran tracks, riverbanks, mountain trails, parks, pavements and beaches. I ran. My only regret was that I didn’t run Marathons because I was surely in shape for them. I’ve never been fitter than I was in my running years. But as most runners know, it can take its toll in other ways. Running is intense and addictive. I was a new Mum, with two babies, and running was all I could do to manage the surge of emotional changes. With hindsight, I would have found more support in something gentler. But we learn what works for us by living through what doesn’t. When I was pregnant with Luma everything in me knew I had to replace running with something more nourishing, kind and sustainable. Swimming, and more recently, yoga, are a form of salve for the body and mind. In many ways, they are the antidote to years of running. And yet, there is still a part of me that misses it. The adrenaline, and the feeling of flight. Recently, I’ve felt a visceral urge to run. Maybe it’s Spring’s awakening, maybe it’s that we’re spending so much time at home, but I see runners from my window and I want to join them. I know I can’t run with the intensity that I once did –– I no longer want to –– but a once-weekly jog, or a sprint to the park and back, may be enough to satisfy the urge. The irony is that I no longer own a decent pair of runners. Unlike my Dad, I chucked all mine when I was done.

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