Discover a secret garden this summer

This week I’ve been enjoying many horticultural delights courtesy of the National Garden Scheme (NGS). The annual summer event provides the opportunity to mosey around private and public gardens in aid of charity.

The scheme is so quintessentially English, reminiscent of the beloved village fete an atmosphere fostered by the delicious homemade cakes available. Spoilt for choice at one garden, I indulged in a generous portion of walnut cake with a pot of cafetière coffee on a shady patio. Hosts were ultra friendly and there was some lively chat amongst the visitors. I met up with one couple at the next garden too, and we greeted each other like old friends. Gardening tips were swopped and recommendations for further gardens to visit. Aah, an English summer.

Continue reading “Discover a secret garden this summer”

Review: Out Of The Blue at The Arc

In the beginning there was Terence Conran, Ossie Clark, Celia Birtwell, Mary Quant, to name but a few of the innovative mid-century designers, and Tricia Guild. The Designers Guild began in 1970 with Guild opening in a small section of a shop in Chelsea’s King’s Road in 1974. It quickly became synonymous with cutting-edge design, the brand a byword for stylish living. The Guild’s fabrics were decidedly covetable and bestowed a certain je ne sais quoi.

Out Of The Blue, exploring the Designers Guild, first debuted at the Fashion and Textile Museum in London in February 2020 and subsequently closed due to the pandemic. The good news is that the exhibition, showcasing several exhibits not previously displayed, opened last week at The Arc in the historic city of Winchester.

Continue reading “Review: Out Of The Blue at The Arc”

Review: moody blooms by Tricia Guild and photography by James Merrell

Tricia Guild’s new book, moody blooms: designing with nature, is part gardening book, part art catalogue and part interior design manual. The pages explode with colour and present an exploration of the varying forms and energies of different plants as an integral element of a beautifully designed interior. Guild’s designs are influenced by the cyclical life of a twig, leaf or flower from tentative bud to full-blown deliciousness, as well as their melancholic demise. Her work is a blend, a meeting of graphic design and painting, travel influences and structural objects, light and shade.

Continue reading “Review: moody blooms by Tricia Guild and photography by James Merrell”

Jubilee: the best royal trees in the south east

In periods of social unrest public statues are often defaced or pulled down. Man-made buildings too are destroyed, as in Henry VIII’s Reformation, as a symbol of protest and change. Trees, on the other hand, planted to commemorate a special date or event, are an entirely different matter. Trees maintain their dignity and longevity. They go about the business of living quietly and conscientiously. They absorb pollutants in the atmosphere, provide us with oxygen, prevent flooding and land erosion, influence wind speed and temper climate. They also provide habitats for wildlife, and being near them improves our health too. Visit these attractions this summer to see some magnificent royal trees.

Continue reading “Jubilee: the best royal trees in the south east”

Jewellery and Jubilee fever

The Summer Opening at Buckingham Palace is always a not-to-be-missed occasion, a one-off opportunity to explore the magnificent Royal collections whether art, family momentos or, as is the case this year, some of the fabulous royal jewels.

Of course, 2022 is a very special year, being Her Majesty’s Platinum Jubilee at royal residences. So we are in for an extraordinary treat and get to ogle a selection of exquisite pieces, created by some of the biggest names in the industry. Also on display will be the Queen’s Coronation Dress and robe by Sir Norman Hartnell in 1953. These include heritage pieces handed down through the centuries, and items collected by the Queen that will no doubt be passed on throughout history.

Continue reading “Jewellery and Jubilee fever”

Italian Fashion Brand: Max Mara Art Prize For Women

The biannual Max Mara Art Prize for Women makes me wish I was talented artistically. Not only does the winner get to spend time in Reggio Emilia, Catania and Rome, researching classical mythology, but also explore textile craftsmanship, permaculture and the myriad historic sites and institutions. Having minored in Classical Studies at University, six months spent in this way sounds to me like the quintessential gift from the gods.

Emma Talbot is the winner of the 8th Max Mara Prize which began in 2005 and supports UK-based female artists, and specifically those who have not previously had a major solo show. The award presents the opportunity for a fully-funded, bespoke Italian residency, followed by a solo exhibition of a new body of work, both in the UK and Italy.

Continue reading “Italian Fashion Brand: Max Mara Art Prize For Women”

SS2022: preowned, preloved and very appealing

I have always been an avid jumble sale and charity shop enthusiast. There’s a thrill in the hunt for quality pieces and best-loved brands. With spring in the air (despite the unseasonal below-freezing temperatures as I write) I have been checking out the new collections, and subsequently scouring some favourite places for inspired pre-loved items to work into my wardrobe for fresh looks. I’ve been mooching around around Hampshire and Sussex and have so far found some lovely items to make a start to my spring/summer wardrobe.

Continue reading “SS2022: preowned, preloved and very appealing”

A visit to an Extraordinary Doll’s House

Motifs in Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s three-act play, A Doll’s House (premiered 1879), include appearances, the power of money, and women’s place in a patriarchal society. A work of its time, there is a clear divide between those who lived upstairs and the servants living below. Actual doll’s houses, those little microcosms of everyday life, dating back to the 16th century and reflecting similar societal values, were created not as toys but often as a teaching aid, to instruct a future lady of a grand house on the running of the establishment. Think Downton Abbey with its defined rules of behaviour both below and above stairs.

The Uppark doll’s house is one of only a handful that have survived from the 18th-century in amazingly good condition. The little four-poster beds alone are around 300 years old.

Continue reading “A visit to an Extraordinary Doll’s House”

Product review: BOXD nutritional powders

For the past two years, I’ve been optimising my diet. No faddy dieting, but rather good solid nutrition. Like most of us, I’m concerned that the quality of food available generally has deteriorated over the years. Finding an egg or a carrot, for instance, that actually has any flavour is a challenge. I had been cruising along, a happy vegetarian for over 40 years, and feeling pretty smug in all honesty that I had it right. But our bodies and our nutritional needs change throughout our lives. For one thing, we need more (class A) protein as we (ahem) mature. There are only so many times you can eat eggs, cheese or meat in a day, and I’ve been searching for a tasty ready mix to supplement my protein intake.

BOXD ‘natural wellness’ shakes are formulated to specifically meet the nutritional needs of women. I’ve been blending like crazy recently to put these to the test. Read more to find out how I got on in the kitchen.

Continue reading “Product review: BOXD nutritional powders”

Review. Extraordinary Everyday: The Art & Design of Eric Ravilious and Turn and Return by Dierdre Wood

Maybe it’s the non-stop disturbing news from around the world, or the long dark winter and the recent wild storms (including Storm Eunice which carried a Red Alert warning) but I just haven’t been feeling the love. The year has felt slow in getting started.

This week I visited a new exhibition at The Arc in the historic city of Winchester, to explore the work of Eric Ravilious. It is the first time I have experienced Ravilious’ work up close. A display of stunning woven textiles by weaver, Deirdre Wood outside The Gallery was an added bonus. The intensity of colourful art proved inspirational and I’m back at my laptop with the first blog in a few weeks.

Continue reading “Review. Extraordinary Everyday: The Art & Design of Eric Ravilious and Turn and Return by Dierdre Wood”