Sunday, 10 October 2010

Elegance at any age

Now I never, ever look this elegant, even in my thirties.... this lady rocks this outfit. I can only dream.

via The Sartorialist

Saturday, 25 September 2010


I've been really miserable the last two days, and I can't quite explain it. Everything seems to be in a big old mess... boxes everywhere, moving date seems to be receding into the distance... every time I put a load in the dishwasher or in the washer another one seems to appear. I'm not keeping on top of the house, or on top of anything else right now. I've lost my diary - where I write all the reminders that I can't keep in my overstuffed brain - and lost any sense of organisation.

Yesterday was my last day at my 'office job' before I head out into part-time short contract world, a kind of transition step to unjobbing. I think maybe I feel sad because I put such an effort in for three years, to make things better there, and many of the academic staff didn't really even show any care that I was leaving. I did get some great vouchers for John Lewis, which was really generous, and a bottle of champers, but when I saw who had signed my card there was a distinct lack of academic staff on there. Just made me feel rubbish for battling and striving for three years, for nothing. But my boss and my other admin team who work in the offices next to me were great and we had a glass of fizz and a natter before I left.

Today I've been finding E really hard work. He seems to say 'no' to everything and doesn't listen when I ask him not to do things. He kicks me when I'm trying to change his nappy, climbs on the table when I have said not too, tries to get into the fuse box... he's just a bit wild at the moment, and I'm finding disciplining him difficult. I keep losing my temper, which I really don't want to do. I need to find a way of chilling out about it all.

I've got a lot coming up in the next two weeks. I'm registering at the new institution where I'll be doing my PhD, my teaching starts again, and I have some new teaching on a performance course. And of course the big house move. I wonder if my little brain can cope with all of this....

Image 'Young Girl Struck by Sadness' by Picasso

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Beautiful Losers

I recently watched the wonderful documentary 'Beautiful Losers' and was enthralled by listening to the late Margaret Kilgallen speak. Her work is absolutely stunning. I have often said that beauty is found in things that are off, or 'wonky', and that this imperfection is beautiful. She expressed that thought so much better than I could:

'I like things that are handmade and I like to see people's hand in the world, anywhere in the world; it doesn't matter to me where it is. And in my own work, I do everything by hand. I don't project or use anything mechanical, because even though I do spend a lot of time trying to perfect my line work and my hand, my hand will always be imperfect because it's human. And I think it's the part that's off that's interesting, that even if I'm doing really big letters and I spend a lot of time going over the line and over the line and trying to make it straight, I'll never be able to make it straight. From a distance it might look straight, but when you get close up, you can always see the line waver. And I think that's where the beauty is'

"Margaret Kilgallen" on Art:21,, 2005 (via Wikipedia)

(Images via The Initiatives and Visualingual)

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Magical childhood: tips for parenting

I've been reading a wonderful article on parenting, which I wanted to share with you. It's given me a lot of encouragement that my journey as a mama is heading in the right direction and that I'm learning so much from spending time with E - we learn together and in a natural, unforced way.
As the author, Alicia, says

“…But more important, what parents need to know :
[…] Our children don’t need Nintendos, computers, after school activities, ballet lessons, play groups and soccer practice nearly as much as they need US. They need fathers who sit and listen to their days, mothers who join in and make crafts with them, parents who take the time to read them stories and act like idiots with them.”

Full article is available here .

Trying to build a magical childhood for my boy, trying to do the very best I can on that front.

(via Tralalere)

Monday, 13 September 2010

Vintage Vacations

Oh my goodness, I'd just love a cozy winter holiday in this converted tin tabernacle, on the Isle of Wight. Isn't it stunning?

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Our new house!

We're moving! I'm super excited, although there are a zillion things to do before we move in about four weeks. We've amassed so much stuff since we moved in here four years ago.

Our new place is the one on the left. The garden is HUGE with a big veg plot, a greenhouse and three sheds! We've never gardened before so it's a steep learning curve, but my mum has been giving me tips and hints to get us started and is always on the end of the phone. And I can always rely on good old Gardener's World too!! (I'm so middle aged but I love it!)

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Beautiful Bossa Nova

There is no other style of music so mesmorising, lovely and heartbreaking as bossa nova. This is a video from Joao Gilberto, whose voice could melt the coldest heart. It's a tune called Estate, and it's one of my favourites. There is such heart here...

Thursday, 26 August 2010


This is just the cutest thing and I love some of the moves she pulls. Isn't pregnancy amazing

Magic- A Belly Grows from The Panic Room Videos on Vimeo

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Lost and found

See this cheeky face?! This little monkey boy lost our car key this morning and mama has spent hours scouring the house. Dada woodsman had to take him off to nursery in the diesel-thirsty truck whilst mama hunted high and low. Then ensued a funny facebook conversation between my friends and I, where we recounted all the crazy places that our little ones had stashed things. My favourite was my friend's son who likes to put toys at the bottom of the milk carton!!
I searched his shape sorter, then down the toilet, down the sofa, in his toy box, in the keyhole at the back of the door.... I was losing hope of ever finding it... Anyway, after finding a cute little plastic pig poking out of our rice sack, I thought I'd try down the side of the fridge - bingo!! Now I can make some celebratory tea and toast and get on with some work - phew!

Monday, 23 August 2010

Baby doll for my boy

I'm looking for a baby doll for E to play with. He's really been enjoying games we play where we comfort someone when they're sad, or pretend to change a nappy on a toy, or we cover up someone in a blanket. He goes to a day nursery 2 days a week and we've been hearing that he's been kissing and cuddling the smallest babies there. He's such a kind boy! I love that this is a really important side of his personality and asked him if he wanted a baby doll, to which he nodded yes, with his most serious face on. So now the hunt is on for the perfect doll. I love Charlie doll (top) with his cool outfits, from BlaBla. This big fuzzy haired doll is super funky and can be bought from Myriad Toys. I think my favourite dolls are by Bamboletta - the one at the bottom is called 'Sadie' - and they do custom dolls too, which is exciting!

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Knitting project: baby cardigan

I finished this baby cardigan for my friend's baby, Edward, a little while ago but only just got round to sewing up and pressing. I'm really pleased with myself as the pattern involved lots of things I'd not done before. All worked out beautifully. The pattern was '5 hour baby sweater' which I found on Ravelry and the yarn is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran. Now.... what to knit next...?!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Family holiday

E and I have had a lovely holiday, firstly at my cousin's wedding and then staying with my mum for a few days. Here are a few shots from our visit. E loves the park next to Grandma's house.

We liked poking about amongst the trees with sticks, and E did some adventurous climbing with Grandma!

We visited E's Great Great Auntie Marion, who is 92 years old. She is such a sweetheart - a real lovely kind lady. She's a very sociable person and though she can't get around much any more she's still as sharp as tack. E adores her!

We went for a walk down the pier at Southport - it was rather blustery!

We also saw E's cousin, Alex, and my sister, E's Auntie Abby. They are fun to be with!

We had such a lovely holiday and though we're glad to be back, we really miss everyone - especially Grandma... we hope to see her soon.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Knitting again

I've started knitting again - hurray! I'm still quite a beginner, so every project I take on has some element of new learning in it. This time round I'm knitting a cardigan for my friend's new baby boy. It's in a lovely blue cashmerino aran yarn by Debbie Bliss. I'll post a photo when I've finished it.

The problem with knitting is that it makes me want to buy lots of yarn! Look at this beautiful yarn - aren't the colours amazing?

Yarn and Photo by yarnwench on Flickr

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Book of the decade!

If there's a book that sums up the last few years or so for me, it's How to be Free by Tom Hodgkinson. I re-read it regularly, and it's great to just dip into. It's anarchic, humourous, warm, and makes a whole lot of sense to me. It's a current read right now and partially inspired the radical move I've just made. Now all I have to do is dust off my ukelele......

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Free at last!!!

So... I quit my job!!! Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Hooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!

Honestly, I can't tell you the liberation! And actually the prospect of frugal - and more mindful - living is kind of exciting me too.

Why I'm pleased:
Not having to do the 9-5 grind, not having 'an office'. Not having all those associated office politics (of which there were A LOT in my place). Not having to travel on trains and buses for hours and hours to get there to do something I don't even really enjoy.

Focusing on my family, creative pursuits - knitting, drawing, playing, learning - just living life at a more local level, a slower pace. Yes, I'll still be doing the lecturing, with it's associated piles of marking etc. but that's something I can control. I can choose which days I want to work. I can choose how many hours I want to take on. I can take on more one term, less the next. And if I run out of money I have to be creative about where I find some more.

I'm thrilled!!

Picture by Picasso, which I'm thinking of having as a tattoo to mark this occasion!

Monday, 19 July 2010

Life on the edge

I'm about to take a big leap of faith. After being fed up of my job for some time now, I'm thinking of handing in my notice to spend more time at home with E. I will still need to do my part-time lecturing, but as that's neither all year round nor totally reliable that they'll have hours for me, it's a big risk. Particularly in these financial times. I'll have to find some bits and bobs of work across the year to make sure I can pay for E to go to nursery one day per week.
But to be honest, even if I end up selling all my stuff, busking in town every day, trying to live more frugally and carefully, I think it will still be a reaaaally positive thing.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Down by the river

E hasn't been swimming in his life, as I can't swim and am pretty scared of water. But this weekend we went with his (half) brother Jake, myself and the woodsman down to the River Itchen, near Itchen Abbas, and paddled in the shallows. It was such fun! E needed some persuading to get in but once in he didn't want to get out. Another family came for a paddle with their dog, who was *very* excited about the whole thing, and E kept shouting 'woof woof'. All great fun. We then popped in to see a friend who gave us a big bowl full of home grown raspberries. Jake - who is now 12 - said it was the best Sunday he's had in ages, much better than sitting and playing X Box!

Photo by sandlings on Flickr

Saturday, 10 July 2010


E constantly amazes me! He's just about to turn 19 months this coming week, and his talking is really coming on. His words aren't very clear but he's starting to put together more and more two word phrases. This morning I could hear him chattering away in his cot, and then clear as day he said....

'one, two, three, four'!

I had *no* idea he could count! I mean, we do count things in books but not in a hardcore teachy sort of way... they just pick up things like sponges, don't they.

So, I think we might get him this funny, stylish print from sugarfresh just to celebrate his new counting skills!

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Book of the week

I've just started this book and, oh my word, it is wonderfully poetic. It's an absolutely thrillingly page-turner at this point too. Something terrible has happened on an ordinary street, on a summer day, but we don't know what. McGregor builds the suspense through tiny details and images. Amazing writing

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

'Late Summer' by Lyndn Gauntlett

Here's a pretty tune that the woodsman wrote, with woodsman on piano and me on bass. We need to sort out our camera angles more so you can see us both.

Summer projects

I love to have fun projects for the summer and am feeling the need to make a list. Listmaking is also something I love to do! Above is a photo of me with E (busily munching on rice cakes!) and his super fun cousin, doing some drawing. This summer we've done lots of drawing - E drew a lovely spider this morning, which he was pleased with as spiders are his favourite thing at the moment.
Here's some ideas of projects that I'd like to do - I shall keep you posted of my progress
  • plant up some herbs (we were given some very garish coloured plastic plant pots and some seeds, so I may as well plant them up for us to use)
  • make a hula hoop
  • learn to juggle (the woodsman is an excellent juggler and I'm sure could teach me no problems)
  • sew something (but what?? to decide - I'm a total beginner)

Let's see how I get on - can I stop procrastinating and actually do some fun stuff?

Sunday, 4 July 2010


I'm loving the creativity of toddlerhood and I'm really starting to think about unschooling as an option for us, as I want to keep this exciting/excited way of learning and exploring for E.
Not sure I could cope with some of the negative reactions I know we'd get, but we'd find ways to cope with those over time I think.

I've been doing a lot of blog reading recently and am finding more and more wonderful blogs that show really creative families and people living outside of the more accepted ways of living. You might say outside of the 'system'. Travellers, unschoolers, anarchists, deworkers, idlers, crafters, bloggers.... Gives me inspiration to read such things.

(Photo by the brilliant Amanda Blake Soule of Soulemama)

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Cute boys tops

Aren't these boys tops from Danefae adorable? I can see E roaming about and causing havoc, whilst looking super cute in one of these.

(Photos via Nordic Kids)

Monday, 28 June 2010


I've been practising driving quite a bit this weekend, as I have a driving test coming up soon. I haven't really enjoyed learning to drive and I'm quite anxious in the test situation, so this will be my fourth time. But I *really* want some more freedom and independence. This photo says it all really. Wish me luck!!

Photo via Canyon News

Saturday, 26 June 2010

China collection

I love these pretty teacups that the woodsman found - perfect for a cup of Earl Grey in the summer sun

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Women reading

I came across this photo by Tom Hunter called 'Woman Reading a Possession Order' from 1998, which I hadn't seen in some time. It's based on Vermeer's 'A Girl Reading at and Open Window' and is a beautiful contemporary take on the old Master. Language is power...

(Photo by Tom Hunter)

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Thirty-something wanderer

The woodsman and I just finished watching SATC in its entirety for the second time. I love that show! And today I feel very much like Carrie Bradshaw. I've got the morning to myself and I've been wandering around town, a thirty-something gal with much more confidence to spend time with myself than I had when I was in my twenties. I had breakfast sat outside one of my favourite cafes, Cafe Monde, and the sun was shining. I'm now in the library, tip-tapping on my laptop and writing to you, dear readers.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Iceland rocks!

As a massive Bjork fan, I've always wanted to visit Iceland - this video makes me want to go there even more! Love this track by Emiliana Torrini -I had no idea she was from Iceland. I studied Icelandic Literature and Culture for a year at uni, where we read Icelandic sagas. It's a place of real mystery and beauty.

(From Inspired By Iceland on Vimeo via the wonderful Cup of Jo)

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Comfort food

I'm ill. Boooooooo. At home with the little one, whilst the woodsman works, and feeling sorry for myself as E was up at about 5am this morning. He's having an early nap now and I'm thinking of ways to make myself feel better. Watching Masterchef last night we saw a lovely sorrel soup - doesn't this one look delicious? Enough to make any ill person feel just that little bit better
(Photo via

Saturday, 5 June 2010

The meaning of life

Sometimes I spend *far* too much time musing on the meaning of my life, whether I'm living the life that is most complete and most fulfilling. I had a bit of an epiphany the other day. It's nothing I don't already know, really, but something just made my thoughts crystalise on that day. The most important thing in my life - aside from family and friends - is music. Playing it, listening to it, talking about it. When I'm feeling morose, I use music to match my mood, to let me wallow in those feelings, or to lift me out of them. I use music when I can't express a part of myself. It defines me. And so whatever I choose to do with my life (no, I haven't decided yet, even though I'm nearly 35!) music must be at the heart of that. Here's a picture of me when I was doing a gig at the Brighton Festival, sitting and thinking during one of the instrumental numbers.
(Photo by Mat Thomas)

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Oh so English

There is nothing so English as a visit to a National Trust property! My mum and I always try to go somewhere nice when she visits, and this holiday we went to Mottisfont Abbey. The rose garden was heavenly, we went on a beautiful riverside walk and saw some extremely old and wonderful trees. Top that off with a slice of cake and an elderflower presse and you have a thoroughly English day.

(Photos by Dy Swindlehurst)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

China collection

As promised, dear readers - though a bit later than anticipated - here is an introduction to our vintage china collection. The woodsman has a great eye for beautiful old tableware and often brings me back little gifts that cost under a pound. Some are a classic style - like this lovely teapot - others are more retro/kitsch. I think this teapot is just darling.

(Photo by Dy Swindlehurst also known as my mummy!)