Monday, 27 January 2014

Dyrham Park

Outdoor fun. Hide and seek. Football.

Flasks of tea. Ice cream.

Fresh air.


On the sunniest of Sundays, we went to Dyrham Park, near Bath. A National Trust property, we made the most of the beautiful grounds and the crisp, blue skies; wearing wellies, we wore ourselves out with proper fun and frolics.

Thanks for the country clothing from Joules, who kindly sent the boys' bodywarmers and my trench coat

Saturday, 25 January 2014


A: New smile; goodbye lucky gap
T: Sunny baby

Two grins.

We have a fever in the house, so our weekend plans may be scuppered. Fingers crossed it's a speedy one.

Hope this last weekend of the month is a goodie x

Joining in with Jodi of Practising Simplicity


Thursday, 23 January 2014

Project Simplify: Blue

I hate to say it, but my mother was right. Over twenty years ago, she told me that blue was my colour. Of course, no teen would take kindly to this prescriptive notion and I remember actively choosing other colours to prove her wrong.

That was the early nineties (not known for being a particularly chic period in British fashion), but I wish I'd listened. I have just had an enormous wardrobe clear-out, taking a bin liner of clothes (so full I could barely carry it) to the local charity shop.

What's left? The blues, mainly. Two pairs of blue jeans, a denim pencil skirt and a denim mini skirt, Breton icontops, 50s style cotton tops, a couple of t-shirts, navy jumpers, a cardigan or two (ten). But the main staple of my wardrobe is the blue dress. I have blue patterned iconand printed frocks, a corduroy shift dress, and (my favourite) a denim tunic. The dresses are almost all from Toast.

It seems I have reached that stage in my life where I've found a style and a colour to suit me, and I'm going with it. Navy is a less harsh option than black; there's something Parisian in styling a navy blue knit with a pair of well-fitting jeans, perhaps a scarf, too.

The best part? Getting dressed is so straightforward now. Gone are the mis-matched shades and confusing clashes. Simplifying my wardrobe has simplified my morning routine and for that, I am glad.

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Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Bristol 05 / Black Country Goes South

Sometimes, I hear my children speak the strangest collection of words and I wonder whether they have made up a sentence never spoken before. On Friday night, we went to Black Country Goes South, an event programmed by IC Visual Lab featuring an equally bizarre line-up of (I'm sure) never-before combined elements: Martin Parr films, a pork pie tasting, and a Northern Soul disco.

The first film we watched followed the journey of a Black Country pigeon fancier as he took a selection of birds to Mongolia, where pigeon racing is vastly more popular than it is in the UK. Giant gilt trophies, drunken celebratory meals, and coops on the top of skyscrapers made this an extraordinary look at this peculiar hobby. Next, we ate a selection of foods from Mark's Bread, with the strangest names - Fidget Pie, Groaty Dick - each one far more delicious than they sounded.

Then, a second film about Teddy Gray's sweet factory. Martin Parr introduced both films, and before this one he passed around packets of Teddy Gray's herbal tablets. We dutifully sucked and crunched until the room was scented with a strange aroma; the smell of the factory itself, according to Martin. I was completely entranced by the film - my brother and I went through a phase of making our own boiled sweets, strangely - and found the rolling of the rock hypnotic and soothing. Here it is if you'd like to see for yourself:

Finally, the floor was cleared and we danced to Northern Soul until the wee small hours with two of our best and oldest friends. I can never resist a good disco, and I've always loved a happening. Black Country Goes South was the funniest, most fun, odd, and very British happening I've encountered in such a long time.

All images © Jenny Hardy


Sunday, 19 January 2014

Giveaway: Win a HP Slate tablet!

Image: Mashable

I'm thrilled to announce my latest Oyster & Pearl giveaway: a HP Slate 7 tablet worth £169.99!

As a family, we love our tablet: the kids enjoy games and YouTube, while I love reading blogs and digital magazines. Tablets are so versatile, portable, and fun, as the winner will soon discover.

Teaming up with Argos to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a HP Slate 7 tablet in your choice of red or grey, there are plenty of ways to enter this giveaway - just complete as many of the Rafflecopter options below as you'd like. This giveaway ends at midnight on 25 January so get entering!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms & conditions: 
This giveaway is open to all UK readers of Oyster & Pearl. 
The winner will be chosen at random after the giveaway closes, week commencing 27 January.
The prize will be sent directly to the winner by Argos.
The winner must get in touch with Oyster & Pearl within one week; a second winner will be selected if no contact is made within the specified terms.
No cash or other alternatives to the prize stated will be offered.


Saturday, 18 January 2014


A: Making a rocket pack
T: A rare nap

Last night: drinks and dancing with friends.
Tonight: book group; laughter guaranteed.
Tomorrow: sunshine and fresh air.

Have a swell weekend x

Joining in with Jodi of Practising Simplicity

Saturday, 11 January 2014


A: His favourite spot: in the window
T: His favourite spot: in a giant bag

Today, the sun is shining, highlighting dust and dirt as far as the eye can see. A clear-out will take place, plus a little bit of DIY, some homework and practising telling-the-time, and maybe a curry tonight with a new episode of The Bridge.
Tomorrow, we meet up with some of our best friends for fun and merriment.

What are your weekend plans?
Have a good one x

The 52 project: joining in with Jodi from Practising Simplicity.

The Giant Globe bag was sent to us by Rose & Grey - thank you, it's a hit with Mr T. 

Friday, 10 January 2014


A: Such a sweet note!
T: Wellies and puddles make for a happy boy

The regularity of the 52 project posts make me happy and panicked in equal measure. Last year, I posted images I wasn't entirely happy with just to meet the deadline, and that bothers the perfectionist in me. But the not posting regularly thing bothers me too. It's a dilemma. I need to relax a bit...

This week's images aren't technically great, but they capture a lot of personality. Which is not to be sniffed at.

More of the same tomorrow, potentially, if I get my act together.

Joining in with Jodi on her newly named Practising Simplicity blog.


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Five reads for January

Image: Polpo

One of the things I love most of all about Christmas is receiving books as gifts. There is something very comforting about the after-lunch lull on Christmas Day, the hum of the dishwasher, the crackle of the hearth, the snore of the sozzled relative, as I sit quietly, nose firmly in a new read.

This year, there were many new books under the tree for me; some I'd asked for, some unexpected treats.

1. POLPO: A Venetian Cookbook (Of Sorts)
Pictured above, Polpo is a London restaurant specialising in Venetian dishes. The book's intro is enough to make you want to a. go to Polpo, b. go to Venice, and c. cook every single dish contained within these beautiful pages. Of note is the octopus pictured on the front as it's also the tattoo that covers the owners back.

2. The Goldfinch
It's a whopper, there's no denying it; without my book group deadline I'm not sure I'd attempt nearly 800 pages of hardback. But just 30 pages in and I'm hooked. This is just the kind of prose that tickles my fancy.

3. Love, Nina: Despatches from Family Life
Described as 'Adrian Mole meets Mary Poppins', this is a beautifully written, intriguing record of Nina Stibbe's time as a nanny to a London family in the 1980s, told through her letters to her sister, Victoria.

4. Kinfolk Volume 10
So intrigued by the subject of the latest Kinfolk: ageing. Something that's playing on my mind this new year.

5. 5 Love Languages of Children
Previously, I've written a little about some of the things going on with T, my youngest child. In an ongoing quest to understand him better, this book is on my bedside table and I've been dipping in and out. Fascinating stuff, and I'm told the original book (The Five Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts) is also worth a read.

What are you reading at the moment? Did you get any books for Christmas?

Friday, 3 January 2014

A month of light

I write this sitting on the sofa, roaring fire at my feet and fairy lights twinkling at me from the tree. The joy I feel at the pre-Christmas Christmas tree is evened out by a grumpy sigh on this side of the big day; my shoulders drop like the needles of my wilting Norway Spruce at the sad and sorry sight of tired old decorations, wrapping paper in recycling bins, and everything reverting to boring old normality.

This afternoon, A said how much he's looking forward to summer and I felt like the White Witch of Narnia telling him how long we would have to wait until the days grow lighter and the air turns warmer. Racking my brain for January, February and March highlights, I found there was little to look forward to in these long months ahead.

And so I made a decision: the tree has to go but the lights and the flowers stay. The Ilex berries, the hyacinth bulbs, a vast vase of eucalyptus - they are here till they drop - alongside fairy lights and candles and, of course, a crackling log fire.

Nine years ago we visited New York City for our wedding anniversary. It was bitterly cold and yet the city was alive; every tree wrapped in lights and every bar, cafe and restaurant lit up so invitingly. Coming home, I couldn't understand why we don't all follow their lead - Paris, too, for that matter - and keep the lights on a bit more during the dark winters. So this month, I'll be doing my bit to keep the home fires burning and a little light in the darkness.

Thursday, 2 January 2014


A: No finer treat than a marshmallow-topped hot chocolate
T: Nothing he loves more than book after book after book (thanks to my friend Kate for snapping this rare pic of me with T)

Here we are: a full year of weekly photographs of my children. I'm so glad I started this project and could see it through to the end (I'm not a natural completer-finisher).

I'll carry on with the weekly portraits into this new year, but with a twist. For 2014, I'd like to focus on the stories and artwork, favourite toys and trinkets, as well as photographs of the kids. A documentation of their interests as well as how they are growing, physically.

For ages now, the drawings have been piling up, their corners curling, colours fading in the sunlight, while I wait for inspiration to strike. Finally, I've decided how to keep track of these prolific makes: a new Flickr account. Each piece is tagged with the name of its creator, and Flickr naturally tracks the date of upload. Really wonderful ones are to be kept in paper form as well as digital, but the majority will be online, perhaps becoming a book at the end of each year. I think this could be the perfect way to preserve these precious creations.

What do you do with your kids' makes?
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