Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Tea parties and flowers

My blog has taken a back seat whilst I enjoy the summer and entertain my parents.  Every two years they visit their homeland to reconnect with family and friends. I have hosted a few afternoon tea parties, rustled up numerous cakes and pastries, reconnected with family last seen many years ago, enjoyed several picnics on the beach and drank enough cups of tea to sink the Titanic all over again!

Summer wasn’t such a wash out after all. We had lots of lovely warm sunny days, I even had a few intrepid swims in our Solent sea and surprisingly the water was quite warm.

My tiny garden has offered up the most delightful fragrance and supplied me with endless bottles and vases of sweetpeas, roses, cosmos and cornflowers but these last few days have seen the weather change especially early mornings and evenings. I am now more than ready to embrace my favourite season, Autumn, but for now, pretty flowers and tea tables.

Thank you Sarah from Down by the Sea for shedding some light on that lovely purple flower in my garden...the beautiful thalictrum delavayi.

Have a lovely week!

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Through the garden gate ...

and to the beach...

My garden is looking particularly lovely right now, and I can’t help but survey it with the satisfaction of one who has realised the pleasure that gardening brings rather late in life and I'm eager to catch up on what I've been missing all these years! I have been playing around with the flowers, constantly picking the sweet peas and the cornflowers. I’ve been a bit wary of picking my verbena bonariensis because they are so stately and regal looking that I don’t want to spoil the look of them as they sway to and fro in my little patch of cottage flower heaven! The vivid pink flowers I grew from seed which I might have received as a free gift and I cannot remember what they are called. They have multiplied abundantly and they are really beautiful and indeed a great cutting flower, if only I could get myself to cut more of them!   I have therefore also decided to participate in ‘through the garden gate’ but instead of leaving it in the garden, we shall go beyond the gate to visit my local beach.

The photos of the garden were taken the same day as the beach photos, in fact when I finished taking the photos of the garden, a little weeding and a little watering, I hurriedly packed my panniers with my beach staples; a blanket, a small cushion, kindle, flask of tea and my sunhat. The day didn’t offer up much in the way of sunshine, it was cloudy but warm and almost no wind, which is unusual when you live at the coast.  I spend a lot of hours cycling along this beach and it’s my favourite way to unwind. It clears my head, gives me much need exercise and makes me grateful for a whole lot of things. The cycle path along the promenade is long and almost straight, so one is free to view the beach on your left as you cycle with no fear of being knocked off or hooted out of the way by frantic traffic.

There is always something to see along the way, dog walkers, fellow cyclists, most of whom will give a friendly nod as they pass you by, windsurfers and the occasional speed boats.  But today was very quiet. Two lone fisherman sat staring out to sea, waiting for the big catch, hardly moving from their chairs. Shortly after I arrived, two ladies arrived with 8 children and they noisily splashed in the dark moody water for some time before it got too cold for them. The vast emptiness of the ocean looked so serene, so tranquil. It was hard to imagine that two weekends ago, the heatwave had us all outside and the beach was jam packed with people of every shape and size, umbrellas up, picnics out and plenty of noise. If you like people watching the beach is a great place to indulge in this without it being too obvious, but if you like reading, then it’s best to find somewhere else to sit unless like today, the rolling clouds guaranteed an almost deserted beach.

Does anyone know what this pretty purple flower is, it's grown very tall, about 5"10 with the tiniest of flowers.

The hollyhock is just about to flower, since taking these pics the buds have opened slightly and I can see the delicate peachy pink of the flesh. It's now about 5"10 high.

Thank you all for your lovely comments on my vintage Italian coffee set.
Have a great week!

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 lines...it 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.