Wednesday, 27 July 2016

1960s Italian homewares

I’ve never been inspired by the 60s interiors, especially the homewares…but 1960s Italian... now that’s another story. As I made my way to the back of my local brocante store last weekend, something quite different caught my eye…a small box filled with six cups and what looked like saucers underneath. The box was battered, old and definitely vintage. It said ARNO, made in Italy on the side. Oh, I like the look of that, I thought, but I really don’t need another tea set and then walked on …but as I was leaving the store, something made me go back and take another look. I took out the cups turning them gently, admiring the right angled handle and the clean was really beautiful.

Glass cups and saucers have been around for a long time, but I hadn’t seen anything like this before. It was too unique to pass up. As I was admiring the cups, I looked up and around the shelving and my eyes fell on a silver art deco coffee pot, with milk jug, sugar basin and tray…they’d look great together I thought.

A few days later I looked up the name of ARNO on the internet and realised that these rather lovely glass cups and saucers were designed by a man called Joe Cesare Colombo, an Italian Industrial designer. Born in July 1930 -  he died on his 41st birthday in 1971 from a heart attack. He studied painting at  Accademia di Belle Arti di Brera but in 1955 he gave up painting to concentrate on his design career. He designed for the likes of Kartell, notably the 4801 chair, as well as designs for Alessi, flexiform and Boffi. I am not sure whether  my cups are original or inspired by him…but they are handsome and I do love the square handles and the square saucers so I will be keeping these.

Have you found any unexpected bargains lately, and what era do you love the most? Do tell!
Have a great week!

Saturday, 2 July 2016

It's all coming up roses

Yes, I’m doing another garden/flower post, My mother has always loved gardening and everything she touches flourishes. She has created several gardens from scratch in the various homes we lived in as children but somehow it never rubbed off on me.  As an adult I hated it. I had no time for it, disliked it intensely and spent as little time as possible gardening. I think it might have been because my gardens were so large back in South Africa, it was always extremely hot, far too hot to be digging in the intense heat when there was a glistening pool to cool off in…gardening just wasn’t my thing back then.  I had a gardener in those days but I would just instruct him where to plant what and let him get on with it. I loved my lavender and my white iceberg roses, other than that I couldn’t give a toffee what was happening elsewhere in the garden. 

Then I met a lady, a very special person called Irene. Irene is a gardener. Her hands are testimony to the years spent toiling the earth. Without gloves. She has strong expressive hands. Hands not afraid to get down and dirty with the soil. Soon we started talking about gardening…not my subject at all. Didn’t have a clue, still don’t. But then one year on my birthday, she visited with the express purpose of teaching me to garden, how to plant seeds etc. From that day on her love and joy of planting seeds seemed to have miraculously rubbed off on me. I call it an impartation of her gift for gardening.  It was that simple. And that’s how I learned to love gardening, sowing seeds and being one with the soil. I still don’t have a clue, but I’m a little less clueless than I was before and I really, really love gardening. I get it now, totally.

I’ve been harvesting my own seeds for about three years now, that in itself seems to be a miracle. Tiny seeds collected by hand, stuffed into envelopes and pulled out the following year, plonked in damp soil and within a few weeks they start to sprout! I am utterly in awe of the life cycle of plants and the simple joy it is giving me. I love the ritual of pulling out all my seeds and sowing them in seed trays ever hopeful that they will grow into something beautiful. Quite often I just throw the whole packet in the tray, rake through with my fingers and hope for the best. Nature wins almost every time.

I find the simple act of weeding extremely soothing on a deep psychological level and feel it even more in my aching bones when I try and get up again!  I love feeling the earth beneath my fingers, seeing the little worms wriggle free as I uproot an intruder and carefully place the worm out of harm’s way. So forgive me for carrying on a bit about my little square of a garden. Because it’s all still a bit of a novelty.

On our visit to Petersham Nurseries a few weeks back I added David Austin’s Gentle Hermione to my collection. I now have three David Austin Roses. I loved the sound of the name and the bush was heavy with about 30 roses all in bloom and plenty of buds waiting to flower. A beautiful soft pale pink -  I just couldn’t resist! I have been picking them constantly over the last few days. Of course the rain we’ve had lately has caused several roses to droop and so I have picked them instead of leaving them to get damaged or break off.. Enough talking, the roses.... the first few photos are the Gentle Hermione, the slightly darker pink are the Sceptred Isle, the deep frilly pink ones are James Galway, all David Austin Roses and then my white iceberg which I've always loved.

So an overdose of roses...

There is nothing like a beautiful scented rose to make one smile!
Have a lovely week.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

An Abundance of flowers

Hello lovely blog friends. The first official day of summer greeted us Monday morning with a downpour of good old English rain! Fortunately the sun made an appearance late afternoon. 

Even though I'm not much of a gardener, I really love visiting beautiful gardens and nurseries. I have wanted to visited Petersham Nurseries ever since I saw a photo of their lifestyle shop and since it was my birthday I thought it would be a good place for hubby to take me to lunch (sometimes one has to subtly steer in the right direction) and a browse around.

The weather was perfect for a day out, the only day last week it didn't rain! We drank Assam and ate delicious coconut cake in the glass tea room, a beautiful fern filled tropical oasis in the middle of London – who would have guessed? I dreamily re-imagined all the rooms in my house to look like those in the shop with vintage French chandeliers dangling amongst fragrant twisting greenery and lovingly aged painted chairs and forget carpets, I’ll just go with the mud floors, that’ll do me.

The nursery itself isn't large by nursery standards but it is exquisite in every other way. 

We enjoyed a delicious lunch at The Cafe which I had heard about in various reviews. I sipped my homemade lemonade seated next to a fragrant star jasmine whilst the bougainvillea offered up a brilliantly bright display of shocking pink and purples. It has a lovely relaxed atmosphere although the starched white monogrammed napkins give a hint that they take the service and the food very seriously. My dessert was served with pink rose petals and a single pink candle, what's not to like!

I bought a beautiful David Austin Rose, called Gentle Hermione and a few other plants, and some lovely pots and I could have shopped wandered all day, but instead we took a walk along the river before driving home.

So enjoy my little excursion and if you have the opportunity, do visit.


Have a great week!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Seeds and Summer days

It’s finally here, warmer weather that is. About time. Beach picnics have been plentiful. We've loaded the bicycles up with blankets, baskets and sun hats and lain like beached whales on the pebbly beach, but it’s been bliss to have the sunshine beat down on one’s brow.

I'm somewhat of a maverick gardener when it comes to planting seeds, tossing them all together regardless of type and scattering them on the soil and hoping for the best.  I've planted lots of seeds this summer, ammi visnaga, dill, sweetpea, cornflowers, cosmos, and a few others which I have already forgotten, but they’re growing in abundance and I forgot to take photos to show you! No flowers yet so unsure if weeds, of which I am sure there are plenty.  I managed to revive my strawberry plants, which were all but left to die under a broken and weather beaten little plastic greenhouse. Somehow they survived and I nourished them, fed and watered them and finally repotted them. They were so happy they started to grow and now I have little fruits popping up all over the plant. I have wanted agapanthus since forever, and I finally bought two plants. Fingers crossed they will flourish.  I also bought the biggest poppy plant I have ever seen. The flower head was bigger than a side plate! (see my IG Feed to see the photo). Unfortunately, these fragile petals don’t last for too long but they are beautiful nevertheless. My first David Austin rose has just flowered, as well as one Iceberg rose. For someone who isn't a gardener, I am always fascinated and somewhat surprised when something in my tiny garden actually grows to resemble something I recognise as a flower!

I can't wait to eat my home grown strawberries!
Have a great week!