Tuesday, 13 August 2013


I always love those shots that appear in glossy magazines of collections of disparate items arranged on a mantelpiece, shelf or cupboard.  They are always beautifully arranged with desirable bits and pieces.  I'm always attempting to do the same thing but it's not as easy as it looks to put a few objects together in a pleasing way.  This was my latest attempt.

The picture of the bird was bought by S in Indonesia when on his many and varied RAF travels.  By someone called Do'one, it was rolled into a scroll and then carefully and beautifully mounted before being framed.  There are three of similar design around the dining room.  The framing cost £100 at the time, the pictures next to nothing.

The picture on the left is my daughter, H, when she was two.  A bubbly haired froth of delight with a cheeky smile and an ironic turn of phrase even at that age. When I'd dressed up once, she appraised me slowly and carefully, before announcing, 'you look slightly lovely in that'.  Damned with faint praise.  The outfit that she is wearing in the photo is Laura Ashley, a lovely lace trimmed white blouse and a Campbell tartan pinafore dress.  She wore it with black woolly tights and black patent leather shoes.  Adorable.  The photo was taken by a colleague at the time, in her front room, but a great shot that captures the mischievous, funny, happy toddler that she once was.

The shell was collected from a North Carolina beach when S and I stayed in a B and B there.  Fond memories of that trip.  We went to Kittiwake on the Outer Banks where the Wright Brothers made their first flight.  And stayed in a wonderful B&B by a lake.  They'd built the house themselves and it was all pine with interesting angles.  We sat at the bottom of their garden and watched the sun sink to a brilliant red reflected across the lapping waves.  Breakfast was a chopped pear, a raspberry muffin and an egg muffin filled with ham and cheese.  It is one that I have copied many times since.  I buy a sweet muffin and chop a ripe pear.  Then in a muffin tray, break an egg into the well.  Then add some chopped ham and some grated cheese.  Break another egg on top and sprinkle liberally with more grated cheese.  Bake at about 140C in a fan oven for ten or fifteen minutes.  Check that it is golden brown before serving.  Oh, and forgot to say, spray the muffin tray with oil or brush it so that they don't stick.  And hope you weren't doing that recipe as you read.  I use two pointed dessert spoons to remove the muffins.  Place the three items, pear, sweet and savoury muffins, artistically on a plate and serve.

The clock is from M&S.  A recent purchase, bought for the guest bedroom at our previous house, which had a touch of the Jane Austen's about it, with flowered curtains, cream walls, beams and a wonderful fireplace.  The clock went well in there.  And, although it is modern, I like its design and it fits well in our Georgian rooms.

The gladioli were bought by S on Saturday when he went to get his hair trimmed.  He knows I like white tulips best but this was a very good substitute.

The photos on the right are of Aunt Alice, mysteriously called Doogie by the family, and, on the far side, my Grandma, H.  Aunt Alice was my grandma's oldest sister, the eldest of five girls and the eldest of ten in all.

Auntie Ali was courting Charles in the First World War.  My mum is not sure if they were engaged but Charles must have been serious about Ali as he had invited her to meet his family.  However, she happened to overhear his sister talking about her - and not in a positive way.  My mum thinks it may have been Ali's Gateshead accent that caused the sister to look down on her, because she was always a very smart lady and couldn't be derided for her dress.  She was also considered to be a lady in terms of her demeanour and manners - she didn't swear or drink, which was pretty refined for women in Milvain Street!

Having heard the sister's words, Aunt Alice broke off with Charles and on the rebound married Uncle Charlie, who was not only not as handsome as Charles, he also turned out to be an alcoholic.  Yes, it could be a Catherine Cookson novel! Alice's life was pretty awful, according to my mum.  They had one child, Andrew, born in December, one year and one week after my mum.  She didn't see much of him in the early years as he was confined to a sanatorium with TB.

The second photo of my grandmother, also H, provides a neat book end to the young H of the 1990s on the left.  She is standing by Auntie Ali's window in Milvain Street, where she also lived, and had perhaps just started school, but we're not sure about that.  She is wearing the outfit of a Victorian child, white petticoats, woollen tights and boots.  Not that dissimilar to the H on the left really.  There is a bow in her hair and she glowers at the camera.  One suspects that she wasn't keen to have her photo taken.

Finally, the cream tile is used as a coaster but was from our en-suite at Staverton.  And the wine stain on the Irish dresser is from the wedding party! It's called the Irish dresser because it came from Ireland.  My brother had it in his kitchen when he lived there and I agreed to care for it when he went to Japan.  He's back now and it is still here. But ready to be handed back whenever he wishes.

Just a few things on a cupboard but so much to tell.

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