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So long summer

25 Aug

It has truly been a beautiful summer. With the onset of the Bank Holiday rain I suppose I’m going to have to surrender to the fact that it’s not long till we’re back in our socks, and shutting the curtains before teatime. For us, the summer has been filled with many precious memories, and there’s just one more getaway before the biggest adventure of all {big school} starts.

Too many highlights to mention, but from pony riding and kite flying, beach combing, pool parties and roller-coasting to dinghies, caravans, veggie picking, sun-drenched suppers and boozy barbecues I’m struggling to think how we fitted it all in.

pony ride

Beer

photo-205

As if that wasn’t enough – there was five weeks of bringing Christmas to life in a sweaty west London photo studio {July is always inextricably linked to turkeys in my world}…

Christmas food shoot - photography Martin Poole {assisted by Faith Mason}; food styling Kim Morphew; styling Rachel Jukes

Christmas food shoot – photography Martin Poole {assisted by Faith Mason}; food styling Kim Morphew; styling Rachel Jukes

 

And of course, in amongst all of that, I’ve been keeping things ticking over at my lovely pitch at The Packhouse. Towards the longer, lazy days of summer, the theme was ‘florals’… teacups, teapots, cake plates, over-sized pitchers, careworn pictures and pretty pots for flower displays…

 

During my summer travels, the bargain hunting didn’t stop, and I even managed to discover a gorgeous tea trolley – the perfect transport for tea and cake, and a perfectly timed purchase for the start of The Great British Bake Off!

Vintage solid teak tea trolley with detachable rose-design tray

Vintage solid teak tea trolley with detachable rose-design tray

New Girl

18 Jun

Finally, this week, the fruits of my harvesting and gathering have reached their destination! I’m thrilled to announce that I am the new girl at fabulous Surrey interiors emporium, The Packhouse!

I have wandered its rambling staircases, and strolled the never-ending levels and little alcoves many times, and always hoped I would have my own little space in this style-lovers heaven.

Transforming my blank wall into a selling space was a daunting prospect, but here are some snaps of how it all shaped up. For any locals, please do pop by. You can find me at the top of the stairs {immediately on the left} next to Cafe Fig – all my labels have the code ZRM13. Will keep you all updated with how it evolves…

 

packhouse 1 packhouse 2 packhouse 3 packhouse 4 packhouse 5 packhouse final

 

 

In memory of Emma

20 Feb

emma

A year ago today I wrote a post about my lovely friend Emma Webb. She was three days away from opening new premises for her shop, Unique Chique. Up to her eyes in planning, she was frantically co-ordinating signs and stock for opening day, and capably masterminding the logistics of retail.

One year later, I am still coming to terms with the terrible news that – two weeks ago – Emma sadly died after a long illness. She had battled courageously for so long, with incredible strength and dignity. It’s unbelievable to think she is no longer here.

Emma led an extraordinary life. She trained as a commercial pilot and became a  captain before her 30th birthday. She then moved into private aviation, but shortly after, unfortunately, her illness meant she was unable to fly. Rather than mope around, she used her recuperation time to go along to one of Annie Sloan’s furniture painting courses, start to revamp her own furniture and eventually set up shop selling her pieces.

Her shop was filled with beautiful, original discoveries and creations. Most of the furniture pieces were found and transformed by Emma herself. She had a great, individual eye, and her shop was truly a statement about her tastes and personality. And, she was one of the country’s first stockists of Chalk Paint decorative paint by Annie Sloan.

I was lucky enough to help out in her shop once a week for a few months. Over cups of Vanilla Chai, we would chat endlessly about gorgeous things we’d seen… dreams we had… plans in the pipeline… More often than not, we would wrap up our days with the same words: ‘So many ideas, so little time.’

Emma was selfless and generous with her encouragement and advice to me. She was quiet and modest, but focused, determined, and hugely creative too. Always ready to share her knowledge and skills, she was liked by everyone who was lucky enough to meet her, and had a smile for anyone who came into the shop. She achieved so much in her short life, but tragically had a whole lifetime’s worth of more ideas and inspiration to share. I know I’m not the only one who will miss her so, so much.

From the sublime to the ridiculous

14 Oct

Thought I’d share a few snaps from last Saturday’s outing to the Harvest Craft Fair at The Herb Farm. It was a good chance for me to dust off a few of my Create Vintage finds.

herb farm 1 herb farm 3 herb farm 4

Harvest Fair at The Herb Farm, Sonning Common

Harvest Fair at The Herb Farm, Sonning Common

I had various pale blue pastel pieces, which I always think look really fresh and modern, and relevant. They haven’t lost any hint of their charm despite their years of use, which makes this colour scheme one of my absolute favourites.  Just because something’s old doesn’t mean it has to look old-fashioned.

After a busy day behind the stall, I ventured off to a car boot sale on Sunday morning and discovered some more beautiful things. This Swinnertons jug and Johnson Bros. teapot  in sunny yellow both make me smile. I discovered plenty more, but I’m saving up a few pieces for an exciting project, which I’ll share at a later date.

Swinnertons 'Majestic Vellum' jug

Swinnertons ‘Majestic Vellum’ jug

Johnson Bros. Goldendawn teapot

Johnson Bros. Goldendawn teapot

In the meantime, although I’m usually attracted to pieces which are as relevant today as they ever were, sometimes you just have to go with something that has an absurd beauty. Totally impractical, but utterly gorgeous, I give you these vintage apothecary bottles. Once containing treatments for all manner of ailments from Ringworm {really} to Permanganate of Potash {who knows what grim affliction that treated}, as well as Glauber Salts and Nutritive Pomade For Nourishing and Beautifying the Hair, I simply love them.

An assortment of vintage apothecary bottles

An assortment of vintage apothecary bottles

The perfect Blend

4 Jul

And so it begins… Christmas in July. That curious concept known only to the crazy bunch of people that ‘create’ Christmas {photograph it, write about it, tell us how to style it, suggest what one should cook/buy/cobble together} months ahead of time.

So, here I am in Shoreditch ‘art directing’ turkeys {yup, it’s an actual job} while all else around me enjoy what constitutes summer. One perk is the rare opportunity to visit places I’ve been meaning to for ages. This Tuesday morning, after a meal at The Duke of Cambridge and a stop over in Stoke Newington the night before, I ventured north to my friend Steve’s new cafe in Harringay. Here’s the review {and I think it goes without saying I LOVED it}. Note the 1960s Fogg & Morup copper pendant light hanging pride of place over the counter – it came from our house, and couldn’t have ended up in a lovelier setting.

Just off the bus stop at Bereseford Road on Green Lanes, Blend Cafe is run by Steve – a friendly Aussie with over 13 years of insider coffee credentials to his name, and Linda – an über-baker and food blogger. Spurred on by a mutual love of coffee, cakes and stylish décor, they have created the café of their dreams, and it’s bringing a refreshing dose of community spirit to the up-and-coming Harringay ladder.

Steve behind the counter at Blend

Steve behind the counter at Blend

Bright, welcoming and spacious, it’s furnished with a classy mix of parquet flooring, desirably mismatched tables and chairs {some donated by family, others sourced from Denmark}, contemporary art, and effortlessly stylish statement lighting. It’s a million miles away from the obvious, uninspired interior of the high street’s carbon copy coffee shops.

Children are not only welcome, they are positively encouraged – there’s a kids area with chalkboard and cute little stools, and there are bite-sized goodies for little ones on the menu. It’s already staked its space as a social hub for families and coffee lovers in the area. Steve told me it’s not unusual for them to be full to the brim with a bank of buggies and babies in one corner, and a chilled contingent of creative types engrossed in their laptops and lattes in the other.

Linda bakes an assortment of bread and cakes daily, and the menu, featuring simple, but original salads, sandwiches and soups along with light brunch dishes changes every day. If you’re lucky you can grab a quick Bircher muesli or decadent Brioche French Toast for breakfast. Or, choose carrot & courgette cake, Anzac biscuits or a scone from the ever-changing selection of sweet treats at the counter. All dishes are created with the curiosity and experimental approach of a true food lover.

The ever-changing menu

The ever-changing menu

 

French Toast - Blend style. Swoon!

French Toast – Blend style. Swoon!

And did I mention the coffee?

It’s hard not to be swept away by the sheer style of Blend, but the stars of the show – the lattes, the flat whites, the espressos – have all the substance you could hope for. My flat white was the best I’ve ever tasted – all coffees are made from Climpson and Sons beans, which are ground to order so they are fresh as can be. Steve talks of coffee with the insight and knowledge of an artist describing his latest masterpiece. His quest for the ideal blends {as you can imagine} was a pilgrimage of epic proportions.

Put simply, Linda and Steve have poured all their passion, skill and creativity into every cup they serve up at Blend. With its good reputation spreading right the way up the Harringay ladder and beyond, this lovingly conceived local is a must-visit, even if it’s not on your doorstep.

Open 8am to 6pm on weekdays, 10am to 6pm on weekends

587 Green Lanes, London, N8 0RG – Tel. 020 8341 2939

email info@localblend.co.uk www.localblend.co.uk

My little painting place

7 Jun

Aaah… That satisfying feeling of tackling a tricky job and getting it done. Yesterday was devoted to finally sorting out the garage. It’s been chaotic since we moved – a dumping ground for all those random things not deemed superior enough for ‘indoors’. It HAD to be done, so we rolled up our sleeves and got ruthless.

The best bit of all was getting my painting gear gathered together in one hugely pleasing place…

From bottom: A variety of Annie Sloan Chalk Paints and waxes and various upholstery tools; My wide selection of brushes {but none so useful as my trusty all-rounder, the Create Vintage paintbrush}; various pots, cloths and scraps of sandpaper

Bottom: A variety of Annie Sloan Chalk Paints, waxes, tacks, wood treatments and upholstery tools; Middle: My wide selection of brushes {but none so useful as my trusty all-rounder, the Create Vintage paintbrush}; Top: Various pots, cloths and scraps of sandpaper

Inspired by a new sense of order, I decided to raid the painting cupboard and do a quick makeover on this sweet little wooden chair found for a bargain price at a secondhand shop.

BEFORE

BEFORE

As proof of how far Annie Sloan Chalk Paint goes, I managed this small project with an undercoat of Old White followed by barely half a tester pot of the superbly subtle Antoinette.

AFTER

AFTER

All in all, I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. With a place for everything, and everything in its place, I may even get on with some other shelved painting projects soon.

Market research

29 May

It was a great first day behind the tables at Tweseldown Artisan Market last Saturday. I’m not sure how you measure success at such events, but we sold a few things, said hello to lots of new faces and thoroughly enjoyed the buzz of bringing my little brand to life.

Amazing what can be achieved in just a week. Between confirming our space on Monday and unloading our boxes early on Saturday morning, we had created a viable showcase for my precious, much-loved stock. A few lovely fabrics here, some self-styled crates and stands there, and a kindly donated vintage ladder thrown in for good measure made a handsome temporary home for it all.

By Saturday evening we were EXHAUSTED!

 

We’re back to do it all again on June 22nd. Same place – Tweseldown Racecourse, Bourley Road, Church Crookham, Hampshire, GU52 8DY.