Wednesday, 26 March 2014

A coat of paint

New York City, 1998

I found these pictures last week while rummaging in an album for something quite different. In the Easter holiday before our finals, we skipped town, boarded a plane bound for NYC and took off on a proper adventure. Me, my boyfriend, and three of the coolest women I know roamed Manhattan for five days.

We ate pretzels on the Staten Island Ferry, breakfast at Tiffany's, and Chinese takeout in those little cardboard boxes at the top of the Empire State Building. We went on the Ricki Lake Show as audience members and we drank cocktails in the coolest bar we'd ever seen. We hung out with a man and his cat in Strawberry Fields, Central Park, and with another man and his vintage clothing store, listening to his band (which turned out to be pretty cool, in retrospect, as the other half of his band is one of Echo and the Bunnymen).

We were young and carefree and, I think, pretty photogenic.

I also found a quotation I've been thinking about for a while now. It's from 'A Life's Work' by Rachel Cusk:

When I look at old photographs of myself they seem to resemble the casts of Pompeii, little deaths frozen in time. I haunt the ruin of my body, a mournful, restless spirit, and I feel exposed, open to the air, the weather, and to the scrutiny of others. I know that there must be some physical future for me, but it is bogged down in planning problems, in administrative backlog. I hold out no great hopes for it in any case... I'll be lucky if I ever find the time to make the long journey back to myself, to the old ruin, and hurl a coat of paint over it before the winter of middle age sets in.

I've been thinking about why I don't post many photographs of myself here. It's not just that I'm often the one behind the camera - more so now than any other time in my life - but it's also because the pictures I see now don't match the pictures I remember. I don't know that there is time for one last coat of paint on this ruin; I barely have time for a coat of nail varnish.

When I look back on this record of my life and my family in later years, will it seem odd that there are no images of me? Will I remain simultaneously present yet invisible, like these women? Or, a decade on, will I have the same thoughts about the few photos of myself now as I do about these New York memories? That they are precious, and that the nostalgia outweighs the criticism.

Saturday, 22 March 2014


A: New smile; another tooth gone
T: New hair; the baby is gone

Growing up fast, these two. Sigh.....

Another weekend, another Saturday morning full of promise and sunshine and cleaning and country music. Feeling such a sense of optimism as winter loosens its grip. The garden is looking less forlorn (although the lawn is a mess) and the buds on the plum tree have quietly blossomed, meaning we will have plums again this year - a very happy surprise.

Have a splendid couple of days x

Joining in with Jodi's 52 project

Friday, 21 March 2014

Colour and magic

There are days that wash by with nothing of note to distinguish them. And then there are the days that sing, the days with magic in the air.

Wednesday was one such day (augmented by the realisation my job has many, many lovely benefits). Alice - my dear friend and uber-talented photographer - and I went to the press preview of the Kaffe Fassett exhibition at the American Museum in Britain. Kaffe is a genius knitwear designer - king of colour - and the show was as bold, beautiful and clash-tastic as these photographs testify. Best of all, Kaffe himself was there, as was Suzy Menkes. In such colourful company, I felt drab and dull (and I'd had no time to put a face on - the horror!).

After we'd seen the exhibition, made our notes and snapped frame after frame of pompoms hanging from trees, extraordinary quilts, and beautiful people, we took the kids on an adventure around the Museum's grounds. Down a mystery path and through a hedgerow, we found ourselves in a clearing with a tipi and an avenue of trees. The babes played, rolled down the hill, and we watched on. That magic was palpable.

The exhibition opens tomorrow (22 March) and is on until 2 November 2014.

More magic herehere and here.

All images by Alice Hendy

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

New (old) wheels

There's a new lady in my life: say hello to Clementine!

A sixties French bike, Clementine is a fold-up Peugeot I found on eBay. She came covered in rust, missing various bits and bobs, and single speed. Naively, I thought I could work out how to restore her (ha!), but she sat in the garden for months, looking increasingly sorry for herself.

Last week, I spotted a flyer at the gym for Black Beard Bicycles that promised full restoration and servicing of vintage bikes. In an unusual fit of proactivity, I called them the same day and took my poor old bike in to see Stefan. Five days later and here she is, back on the road, polished up and looking lovely; they did a totally amazing job with her. (When I first thought about restoration, I wanted to spray the frame red. But now that I see how pretty she looks, I'm going to stick with the orange.)

So, I think it's time to go shopping for biking accessories. I've ordered myself a helmet, but I think that's just the tip of the iceberg. I need a basket, a bell, and I definitely, definitely need a heart-shaped spoke reflector or two. Plus, there's a whole world of outfits to fashion that work on a bike. I'm thinking full skirts and plimsolls, or jeans and boots, maybe a mini-skirt and cape combo.

But most of all, I'm looking forward to family bike rides, trips to the park, picnics by the river. 

Got any tips for me? Let me know your top cycling secrets. Meanwhile, I've started a Pinterest board to fuel my new obsession.

Contains affiliate links

Sunday, 16 March 2014


A: Running
T: Dancing

The light this morning is something else.

The boys and I have spent the past couple of hours breakfasting, playing, and listening to soul, and now we're heading out to the park to make the most of the sunshine.

This day is ours for the taking.
Joining in with Jodi's 52 project

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The eleventh hour...

Some lovely souls have nominated me for the 2014 MADS (the blog awards for mums and dads) and I couldn't be more thrilled.

When I left my day job at the end of last summer, it was a gamble. I didn't know if I could make a living doing what I love most, but I did know that I had to try. Since then, my work has grown and grown, fuelled in no small part by this blog and by my readers. You are, quite simply, bloody brilliant.

With just over 24 hours left to nominate, I'd love it if you could spare a vote for Oyster & Pearl. I'm nominated in four categories so far:
Best Family Fun blog
Best Homes & Interiors blog
Blog of the Year
Best Blog Writer (< this one kills me)

Here's where you go to vote (voting closes at 23.59 on Friday 14 March 2014).

Thank you x


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Precious things: Esperluette

It's been a while since I wrote about the precious things in my world, the objects that matter to me. This red enamel symbol is a vintage sign from France, found long ago by my parents and added to their collection of ampersands that surrounded my brother and I as we lived and grew in that beautiful home, long since committed to memory.

'Esperluette' is the French word for ampersand - quelle beauté - and I love reading about how French ampersands are rendered differently to English ones, fashioned to express the letters 'et' (hence: and).

John Lewis Insurance is running a competition at the moment called What Matters Most. Photograph the possession that matters most to you, write about it in a six-word caption, and you could win £500 of John Lewis vouchers. Have a little look at this amazing animation for inspiration:

Enter the competition now, then tweet using the hashtag #whatmattersmost before 25 March to be in with a chance of winning £500 of John Lewis vouchers. And good luck!

This is a sponsored post, but all words are my own

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Winchester wandering

On Sunday, I headed down south to Winchester to meet fellow bloggers Heather, Karen, Rebecca and Kat. It's always ace fun meeting up with online friends in the flesh. We wandered, chatted, ate and drank, and basked in the sunshine.

My favourite find of the day was The Hambledon, my new favourite shop. Perfectly curated and styled, The Hambledon is like a collision of the best of Pinterest, a stylish friend's home, and the sort of place I dream of owning.

Kat 'hosted' the day, as she lives nearby, and knew exactly where to take us and what sights to see. She's one of those amazingly driven people, and talk inevitably turned to one of her amazing ventures: Blogtacular. If you haven't heard of it, Blogtacular is a blogging event taking place on 9 and 10 May 2014 in London. Kat and best pal, Kat Goldin, have designed Blogtacular to celebrate creativity, quality content and beautiful design in the online community, the first event of its kind in the UK. Tickets are selling fast (obvs), so if you fancy it you'd better get a wriggle on.

See you there!


Sunday, 9 March 2014


A: Edamame and a bento box at Dim T
T: Smoothies and cake at Playspace

I love how these images kind of match.

Wow, what a weekend! Yesterday: sun and outdoor fun, we began bringing the garden back to life and declared treehouse season officially OPEN. And today, a trip down to Winchester to see some bloggy friends - more later this week.

It may only be half past eight as I write this, but I'm taking my tired self (and a G&T) off to bed.

Joining in with Jodi's 52 project

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Five reads for March

The Cut Flower Patch by Louise Curley; photography by Jason Ingram

1. The Cut Flower Patch: Grow your own cut flowers all year round

I met Louise Curley (who writes the properly lovely Wellywoman blog) the year before last at one of Lia and Juliet's supper clubs. When her publishers got in touch to ask if I'd like a review copy of her book, I couldn't wait to see it. The book is just lovely, with pictures by amazing, genius photographer, Jason Ingram. Every year, I promise myself the garden will be chock-a-block with beautiful flowers for me to pick and arrange artfully in vases throughout the house. Inevitably, the warm weather comes and I have the same tired old perennials to pick, while negotiating mud or stepping over the abandoned paddling pool. This year WILL be different, now that I have Louise to guide me.

2. Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

This month's book group choice. I was telling a friend about the brilliant women in my book group, recently. They are almost intimidatingly brilliant: an architect, a creative director, a doctor of psychology, a usability expert with a PhD in chemical physics, an equalities expert, a television producer. And me. I'm not sure any of us needs to read Sheryl Sandberg's book, but I am sure that it will make for an excellent discussion.

3. Quilt Me!: Using inspirational fabrics to create over 20 beautiful quilts

A few weeks back, I met up with Jane Brocket for a cup of tea and hours of chat. Jane, her blog, and her books are an endless source of inspiration and have been for years. This is Jane's fifteenth book (I think), and makes me itch to set up the sewing machine, get my lines straight, and start snipping away at the major fabric stash gathering dust. I'm particularly in love with the Indigo Bento Box quilt.

4. Mollie Makes 38

I know, I know, promoting my own work is a little bit vulgar. But I think (I hope) you will enjoy reading my latest feature for Mollie Makes. It's about the Third Wave of Craft, illustrated by Steph Baxter (amazing!), and is out on 14 March.

5. The Hive

Not sure this is high literature, but a friend told me about it and it sounded like interesting subject matter for a book. Set in the school playground, The Hive explores female relationships and the dynamics between mothers. Intriguing, huh?


Today is International Women's Day, so it's fitting that my reads for March are all penned by brilliant, talented women.

Contains affiliate links

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


A: Current obsession - paper aeroplanes
T: Current obsession (his and mine) - turntable and a cabinet full of vinyl

Joining in with Jodi's 52 project
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


© Oyster & Pearl | UK / Bristol lifestyle, travel, interiors, vegan food blog | All rights reserved.
Blogger Template Designed by pipdig