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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

How I decorate...

It can start with one simple and beautiful object: that is where the inspiration can come from. Or a view; the way sun shine caresses and sparkles on moving water; or the pureness of a blue clear sky or anything really, anything unexpected can be the jump point for a decorating idea. A favourite inspiration for me has always be looking at other designer's homes.

Homes are places that you have to feel at 'home' in. Your home should welcome you back with open arms, you should feel able to be comforted and happy at home. There is nothing worse than a house that accuses you the minute you walk in..."paint this wall....wash these pots....this hall way is too dark...there is too much clutter here...etc". When you open your front door you want to feel welcomed and this is the starting point when you begin to think about decorating your home...'what feeling do you want to create? And how can you achieve it?' For instance if you want to create a cosy feel it is best to stick to warmer colours. Although it is not impossible to do this with lighter shades, but these are considerations to take into account. It is also important to have a level of authenticity to your home, a level of reality that is only possible to achieve with vintage furniture, paraphernalia, real art work and faded linens and shiny pretty things. Whatever look you go for in your home, let it be real to you and your personality, don't buy your interiors wholesale from furniture stores: think for yourself. Understand your own taste and if it is miles away from recent trends or completely off the wall...if it says home to you then that is the aim.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Making cakes

When I was a child, I would often spend the afternoon in the kitchen with my mum and sisters baking. Mum would make currant buns, heavy rich fruit cakes, pasties and fragrant lemon cakes speckle with poppy seeds. In fact my mother was a superb all rounder, she made ginger beer, lemonade and frizzy strawberry cordial and then to top it all she made all our clothes and still worked a full time job. She basically did it all. At the time I didn't think about the mountain of chores my mother went through every day, I just enjoyed being in the cosy, steamy kitchen with my sisters, stirring the cake mixture or kneading dough.

Now I find myself in much the same place as my mum, but without the blessing of a brace of young daughters to stir cake mixtures, roll out pastry and chatter like blackbirds with me in my kitchen. But even alone, I enjoy spending the day in the kitchen baking. In this modern age with all the demands on women to compete in the job market and be all things from mum to journalist to gardener to business woman, there is a simple pleasure from tying on an apron, getting out a mixing bowl and weighting scales, gathering ingredients and baking. The air in the kitchen becomes heavy with the aromas of vanilla pods, lemon rind, cinnamon, ginger, the toffee smell of dark brown refined sugar and you can almost taste the chocolate lingering like a brief memory of a kiss.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

From 'How to Drive a Car.' (1940's)

Riders of pedal cycles are often the source of much worry to the motorist. One would think that the rider of a bicycle would be so very conscious of the flimsiness of his machine and his exposure in the event of a collision that he would be particularly careful to observe scrupulously the rules of the road, but, as a matter of fact, he is often the most reckless of road users. He delights, for instance, in swooping down an exceedingly steep hill at 25 mph, entering the main road in a grand sweep, which takes him right across the path of one line of traffic, and face to face with anything on the other, so that he relies entirely on the skill of other road users and the efficiency of their brakes, while such are the anomalies of our motor laws that he is permitted, head down, with cap hung on the lamp bracket, to dash through villages at 18 miles an hour where red-and-white-painted discs impress the motorist that he will be liable to dire penalties if he exceeds, be it by ever so little, the 10 mph allowed. An Annoying Habit Many cyclists also take pleasure in driving side by side several abreast and obstructing the road entirely to one line of traffic, often obstinately refusing to make way for those wishing to overtake them, so that if there is much traffic coming in the opposite direction - i.e., towards them - the pace of every other road user is set by a few slow cyclists talking as they ride. Verily, cyclists are to be treated with the utmost respect, especially at night, when, scorning even a red reflector which would ensure their safety, they pedal silently along the road, their machines and garments merging into the gloom. The motorist, in order to pick them out, must needs have powerful headlamps, yet, when they see a car with bright headlights, which the driver is compelled to use in order to save their skins, they shout loudly some remarks about road-hogs and dazzling lights. It is a hard life!