Friday, 30 December 2005

Snowy forest

The only snow we saw this holiday was at the St Fagans National History Museum in Cardiff with Anna. She'd cooked us an amazing lunch of vegetable curry and buttered spinach followed by chocolate cake and washed down with a large gin and tonic.

To work it off we headed for the Museum, which is mainly outdoors and consists of a series of buildings depicting Welsh life through the ages. The snow was absolutely lovely - big thick clumpy flakes that settled almost immediately. Snowballs were thrown and extremities were nippy. Excellent fun.

Saturday, 17 December 2005

New red shoes

When I was little and needed new shoes my mum would take me out on Saturday and buy me a new pair from Clark's or somewhere - normally Whiteladies Road and from the shop where the machine measured your feet. I would bring them home and put them at the end of my bed, so that they were the first thing I saw when I woke up the next day. Then I would be filled with excitement that I had new shoes and I'd put them on (still wearing my pyjamas) and I'd watch the children's tv on sunday mornings in my brand new shoes. I loved that they were new and so precious they'd never been worn outside.

I'd have loved these shoes when I was little. The nearest I came to grown-up shoes were those patent mary-janes with the strap that could go back to turn them into slip-ons. Pretty darned cool back in the 80s. Mine were even grey - THE colour of '85.

Sunday, 11 December 2005

Turkish Delight

For my birthday we went to see the Narnia film and then went home for an elaborate afternoon tea. I made maraschino cherry cake, madeleines, chocolate truffle cake, jam drops and ginger biscuits, and we ate sandwiches with the crusts cut off and drank tea and lashings of ginger beer.

It was great.

The film was odd. I liked the opening sequence best of all - the portrayal of the blitz and subsequent evacuation of the children with their mothers sobbing on the platforms left me in tears. The dreadlocks of the white witch made me want to cry in a different way, however. But generally it was well made and we all enjoyed it, particularly the horse called Phillip.

Friday, 9 December 2005

Our adopted home

And so we went to Paris for my 29th birthday, and loved every minute. In fact, we discussed how we might move there in quite some detail.

Everything was manifique - our wee apartment was brilliant and in such a lovely area, we went on a macaroon hunt, we did christmas shopping, we flaneured like no-one has flaneured before, we took full advantage of our first class eurostar upgrades, and we vowed to go back in the spring.


Food memories

There's something very weird about the way that food can remind you of a time or a place. Our croissant breakfast in Paris had exactly that effect on me.

We used to eat croissants at the weekend when we were little and lived in Portway House. This was pre-Atkins era obviously, and other breakfasts included porridge with cream and brown sugar, so you can see how everyone's metabolisms must've gone downhill since then. Anyway, our croissant breakfast would almost always consist of extra butter and marmalade and all four of us sitting round the pine kitchen table on those red Magistretti chairs with the wicker seats, and milk would always be full-fat and served in that white jug with the blue Dutch pattern.

This is when my name was Charlie or fish face or bootsy or charlie buttons or frog face, and we would inevitably be wearing a strange combination of nightwear with elements from the dressing-up box and probably wellies too.

Happy days.

Tuesday, 29 November 2005


I went to London for a meeting when I really should've stayed in bed. Horribly coldy and coughy and no voice still, so it was as much as I could do to croak out one word answers. When I got off the train my eyes wouldn't even focus.

On the way back I took a taxi and the driver drove past Buckingham Palace, and the sky was all the colours of figs and apricots, and I felt like I was in a Suede song.

Sunday, 27 November 2005

A mug's game

Yesterday we went to the Hennessy Gold Cup races at Newbury Racecourse to celebrate Guy's birthday. A slightly random assortment of people as the Winters are all in Berlin, but there were 11 of us throwing hard-earned cash away on the gee-gees.

It was bigger, colder, smokier and more fun than I'd imagined. All of our daydreams of winning big fell flat, especially as my strategy of betting on the outsider wasn't in any way well thought out. Both Gunship and Mr Cool let me down badly, although it was almost worth it to hear Scriv ribbing me over my magnet-like attraction to the 'blind Ken' horses. The atmosphere in the grandstand was brilliant as were the outfits of some of the hardcore gambling types with their flat caps, sheepskin coats and wads of cash. Alas my vision of fellow spectators looking like Audrey Hepburn in 'My Fair Lady' was not quite fulfilled, although perhaps the premier enclosure was more that sort of thing.

Thursday, 24 November 2005

Holiday on home soil

Last night I spent hours uploading all the photos from Ben's broken camera, unearthing some gems along the way. This was taken in Glasgow 2 years ago, when I took Ben there for a surprise weekend. Makes me want to have more holidays in the UK - we know so little of it. Well, odd patches anyway. And in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions by not flying holidays at home fit the bill.

Loving my long hair in some of the pics. It is growing, but I put it in a ponytail a few days ago and decided I look like a diplodocus - big body and tiny head. Not a good look.

Today's outfit is a good look though - black top, skirt and boots, with a red t-shirt and yellow tights. Very de Stijl, n'est pas?

Friday, 18 November 2005

Frosty winter berries

A particularly cold and Narnia-ish morning today. It was sunglasses bright, and I got my big scarf and mittens out of hibernation for the occasion. My walk to work was a jaunty one, with miPod in the mood for love - it shuffled out 'Dreaming of You' by The Coral, 'It's Getting Better' by Mama Cass, 'Oh Yoko' by John Lennon, 'Kodachrome' by Paul Simon, and 'Aint Nothing Like the Real Thing' by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell. It felt like the soundtrack to a Wes Anderson film and put me in a suitably jolly mood.

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

Some velvet morning

Monday saw the first frost of the season. Such a beautiful day - clear blue sky, nippy, sunny and everything with a bright injection of technicolor.

Continued reading 'The Shops' by India Knight, and decided I really must read Au Bonheur des Dames whilst in Paris.

Sunday, 13 November 2005

Allotment face

Saturday was spent at John Lewis buying beautiful yarns for Christmas present scarf knitting, followed by a 2-year-old's birthday party. Absolutely brilliant fun. There were 6 children there: 7 year-old Stan, his 3 year-old sister Sadie and 1 year-old brother Ted, baby Billy, and of course the birthday girl, Minnie, and her wee brother Felix (my favourite baby ever). Sadie ate way too much chocolate cake and ended up racing around for 2 hours, coming out with such gems as "everyone here is my friend, but you're my best friend. What's your name?" and "I love you daddy. I love you Lottie. I love your brother(!) too. I love EVERYONE IN THE WHOLE WORLD!!!". Very cute, made me very broody and want to have a huge gaggle of children of my own.

Home for a thali takeaway tiffin, followed by The Aviator. Beautiful film with great acting, and I didn't notice it was nearly 3 hours long. I started mother's Christmas scarf and have motored through it - big yarn + big needles = speedy scarf.

Sunday we went to Cafe Maitreya with my brother Sam and Sophie, his girlfriend. Delicious as always, and really nice to see them too. After we ate, we shopped at the amazing Sweet Mart, just about the best food shop in Bristol. Wish we had one near us. Then headed for the St Werburghs city farm and allotments for Sophie to do her research. I got chatting to a lovely woman about knitting, and we looked at the lovely pigs again, and a forest of rainbow chard.

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

More commuter mushrooms

These are some of the 5 or 6 patches of different mushroom varieties that have sprung up in the St Mary Redcliffe churchyard. Must be the fertile soil...

What lovely scenery for a walk to work, and on such a beautifully clear and sunny day. The sky is so blue.

Even Ben is getting all romantic about autumn: "Just realised that i've been staring out the window for AGES. I must be getting old, but the leaves on Brandon Hill trees are such beautiful colours. They look like they're hanging on to their branches for dear life. What a lovely way to die, when you are at your most glorious."

Knitting last night was great - learnt how to cast on and off, and practised ribbing. I'm going to head for Johnny Loulous at the weekend for more yarn for my turquoise and red stripy scarf.

Monday, 7 November 2005

A roaring fire makes a happy cat

Monkey in front of the first fire of the year. We used wet wood though, so the smoke alarm went off. There's a lesson to learn.

I listened to the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme yesterday. It was all about puddings, and featured my favourite celebrity chef ever, Marguerite Patten and a food archeologist. I think I've just found my perfect career. I had no idea such a thing existed. It got me thinking that the etymology of food (I don't really know what else to call it) is such a fascinating subject that it deserves a museum all of its own. The Museum of Food. Yes, I'd like that very much.

Almost as much as the Museum of Burnt Food.

Saturday, 5 November 2005

Black walnut apple tree

And so another eBay pick up - this time Bertoia chairs from Chertsey. But while we were waiting for Dave to return with them on his home-made roof rack, I saw this amazing tree. So strange to see a tree bearing fruit but with its leaves a-gonna.

Home through the streets-paved-with-gold areas of Virginia Water and Ascot. Felt like we were in America. I saw one ghastly gated giant pile of bricks with a mini-roundabout in the drive, upon which was planted a large black Victorian-style iron clock. Honestly, some people.

We drove back along the M4 with the sun bright in our eyes, listening to 'Cloudbusting' by Kate Bush.

Noisy mushrooms

Friday night was the private view for the Arnolfini Black Mountain exhibition. These mushrooms were part of the Playing John Cage section. The artist wired the mushrooms up to speakers so you can hear the bioactivity. They scream and gurgle the closer you get. Pretty crazy stuff. The rest of the Black Mountain exhibition was brilliant - beautiful photographs, a Rauschenberg white painting, and of course a Buckminster Fuller geodesic dome

More pictures of the private view

We followed the art with a foray into French folk music. Francois and the Atlas Mountain Ensemble took the Folk House by storm, playing home-made double bass, typewriters, coconut shells as well as more traditional piano, guitar, harp, clarinet and drums. High points included the opening song and accompanying wander around the audience, and frenzied maraca playing behind the bar. Sophie's American friend Jen summed it up by saying "So this is folk? Goddit".

Friday, 4 November 2005

Interiors: Houseplant heaven

My houseplant obsession is getting out of control. From where I type I can see one giant palm, a windowsill full of oxalis, geraniums and a spider plant, an orchid, a succulent, a big vase of flowers, a  shelf of succulents, and I haven't mentioned the Christmas greenery.

Thursday, 3 November 2005

This weather

I think I'm becoming a hydrochondriac... whenever extreme weather hits I feel like we're doomed. This wind is both irritating and worrying, although I'm trying to think of nice things that come out of it. I love it when you see those little twigs on the ground that are strange shapes. I like the ones that look like little piles of silvery bones.

Monday, 21 February 2005

The first post is the hardest...

... to paraphrase PP Arnold et al.

Well, at last, a place for me and my writing.

Another Monday, which means another weekend gone. Disappointing and cheery in almost equal measures, with the highlight being sitting in a posh farmhouse kitchen in Berkshire drinking tea with an old Mitford-esque lady called Maud. The crazy places that eBay takes us.

We saw Maximo Park at the Louisiana and then Bang! at the Hatchet. Maximo Park were good and interesting to watch, but I discovered just how old I've become thanks to a near panic attack when we went into the room thick with heaving bodies and a lowered ceiling. I noted the fire exits.

Bang! was alright, but not quite as good as it can be. I think you need to arrive early and begin on the house doubles earlier than we did. It was kinda full and inconsistent and cold and then hot. And then it was the end in the middle of 'My Sharona' by The Knack, which surely is sacrilege when it comes to Bang.

At the moment I'm reading about Cadigans.
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