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around and around

July 20, 2021

Lynette Yiadon-Boakye’s imaginary portraits.

Bosco Soldi‘s highly textured –– he paints with a mix of  sawdust, pigment, water and glue –– monochromatic canvases.

Cottage life.

Nigel Slater’s orecchiette and broad beans.

Martin Bogren’s glorious ocean scenes.

a sky full

July 7, 2021

I love those summer weeks when we wake to thunder and lightning, only to eat lunch under a bright blue sky. By 5 p.m. the sky is bruised again, and the rain comes down for long enough to wash the chalk art off the pavement. When evening sets in, our gardens are lush and lilac-hued; we breathe in that beautiful petrichor like it’s a prayer. Drizzle, sun, deluge, thunder, drizzle, sun, lightning, deluge, sun. A million moods in a day. A million moods in a week.

Around and around

May 11, 2021

Etchings by British landscape artist, PHIL GREENWOOD.

A portrait of Cy Twombly in his studio by UGO MULAS.

WHITTEN ARCHITECTS‘ New England homes.

Asparagus, feta, lemon and dill.

Norwegian designer, KRISTINE FIVE MELVAER’S boldly patterned blankets.

Ceramic artist, FREYA BRAMBLE CARTER’S singing stripes.

Trays of Baklava.

The weathered stone walls at Casa Mina.

a rose by any other name

May 10, 2021

Rose is one of my favourite scents, especially when it’s peppered with something that breaks its sweetness. This beautiful film, created by fragrance house, La Labo, whisks us away to the small town of Fayence, just outside of Grasse, where the Rosa Centifolia (otherwise known as the Rose of May) is grown. It is the rarest, most fragrant rose in the world and can only be harvested at dawn. Plucking the flowers is an exercise in patience, sensitivity and intuition. “You have to trust your senses, and your ability to find the right moment,” says one of the rose farmers. “It’s like they are talking to me.” Anytime we’re able to see the many steps to creating something, the time and work, and the passion and reverence of the people involved, we earn a greater appreciation for the end product. Just imagine all those Rosa Centifolias distilled into a small bottle of olfactory heaven.

homestead

April 22, 2021

This vintage trough-like stone sink is beautiful. So is the French mirror. “Everybody looks pretty in that mirror,” says designer Amber Lewis. Her beautiful home, set among grand Oaks and Orange Trees in Woodland Hills, California caught my eye because of its warmth and coziness. I like the various shades of wood and hits of brass throughout. There is a laid back simplicity to the whole property. And ooh, that sink.

villa valentina

April 21, 2021

The children and I play this fabulous game where we own and run a hotel in the rolling hills of Tuscany. Luma is the head housekeeper; she also oversees all wedding arrangements. We host a lot of weddings. Insouciant models. Avant garde designers. The odd marquess. Antimo is the consigliere and he can arrange pretty much anything. A chopper to Rome. A private tour of the Uffizi. A round of Pecorino di Pienza. Iole runs the restaurant. And the stables. We have a lemon grove on our property and an abundance of olive trees. There’s a pool, of course, and a grass boce court. Our rooms are designed by Marie-Anne Oudejans. The property has been in our family for three hundred years. If we don’t like a guest, we lock them in the chapel.

antimo

April 15, 2021

Our son smiles with his whole face. Like his Mum. And he’s first off the mark to launch into a lake. Like his Dad. Antimo turns ten this week, and it’s hard to grasp that I’ve only known him for a decade. It feels like much longer. Maybe because I’d imagined him for so many years before he actually existed. Minutes after Antimo was born, every worry I’d ever had was reduced to dust. He was here. “Still waters run deep,” said a woman at the supermarket checkout a couple of years later after locking eyes with the toddler in my arms. And she was right. His waters do run deep. Happy Birthday, Antimo. We love you.

spoonful

April 15, 2021

A few weeks ago, I wrote about Marie Eklund’s delicate hand-carved spoons. Equally beautiful, are Mark Reddy’s spoons, made from spalted beech, oak, maple, apple, cherry and walnut. “The spoon is arguably man’s first vessel, a giver of life, a utensil providing comfort and nourishment: universal and timeless, domestic and intimate,” writes Reddy. “Spoons are the earliest eating tools, dating back as far as the Paleolithic Era. Seashells were connected to small wooden sticks and chips of wood were slowly carved into spoon-like shapes.” There is great variety in both shape and size to Reddy’s creations, and he’s so creative with his handles. Much like Eklund’s, these spoons belong on a mantle piece, or displayed on a wall; the humble spoon elevated to high art.

draft

April 8, 2021

We need a certain distance from an experience before we can write about it. There are rough drafts, for sure, but the final edit only comes with hindsight. Everyday, in my head, while I walk, I am writing drafts. Rough drafts on what it feels like to not have seen my Mum in over a year. Rough drafts on recovering from burnout. Rough drafts on moving masked around your own home when your child tests positive for Covid. Rough drafts on the maddening injustices and inconsistencies of pandemic life. Of life. In between drafts, I seek out beauty. I seek out artists doing imaginative things. I seek out stories of humans stretching beyond their comfort zones. Of finding silver linings in the struggle. La Parachute is one segment of the grapefruit. But a vital one. It’s where I come to escape, to explore. To prepare for my next draft.

pandemic pools

March 24, 2021

Once in a while, I’d get to my local pool, cozzie and goggles in hand, only to find that it was closed for maintenance. I was so routined to my thrice weekly swims, that the notification of closure would skip my mind. It was frustrating at times, like tuning in to a television show that’s been cancelled for the week. There was something about seeing the pool empty of water that made me feel sad. Up in Forest Hill, where we walk often, there are so many residential pools that sit empty all winter. Last year, I remember watching one being filled, and feeling genuine glee at the sight. Pools are containers for water, for life; without water, they’re just cavernous holes. Back in December, photographer, David Levene, visited and photographed some of his favourite swimming venues around London. “‘I love swimming,” says Levene, who took to swimming in open water when the pools all shut. “I’m not fanatic or die-hard, but it is impossible for me to ignore the correlation that exists in my life between swimming and general levels of positivity and wellbeing. I find it hypnotic, meditative, and I’ll tend to have my best ideas and inspirations just after emerging from a pool.” For all you who’ve spent a lot of time at a local pool, and who miss your regular swims, Levene’s images may resonate with you. This image here –– quiet, sterile and still –– reminds me very much of what my local pool looked like on maintenance weeks, and what I imagine it looks like today.

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