Thursday, 15 June 2017

LA DOLCE VITA

I keep meaning to write, just for a change, and then here we are about to go off on holiday. The only time I have been to Italy I was, I think, 23. Sarah and I spent a weekend in Milan, we stayed in a hotel that was cheap and surprisingly fancy, climbed up to the roof of the Duomo, and hid behind a rack of postcards to escape some rather persistent Italian boys.

This time Chris and I are heading to Rome, Praiano on the Amalfi Coast, and Naples. The plan is, essentially, to eat good food, swim in the sea, sea a few sights, and relax. I'm sure there will be plenty of pizza, gelato, and Campari photos on Instagram...




Friday, 7 April 2017

SUMMER 2009

We were away last week. South for my sister's 40th birthday party, a few days in London, then five nights in Copenhagen. But that isn't what I'm writing about today.

Our flight was delayed coming back on Sunday night and we were in a taxi sometime around 11pm when Drake's 'One Dance' came on the radio with its sample of 'Do You Mind'. 

We were living in a 5th floor flat, our second London flat after the one with the oddly shaped rooms and the small windows. This flat had five flights of stairs to walk up and there was a strange, slightly sweet, smell that we never managed to identify near the front door. It had a tiny kitchen and two uncomfortable blue sofas. But those five flights of stairs meant it was light, so light it bleached the spines of our books, and it had a balcony, that I once described as functional, that was just the right size for two.

Quite often though it was just me. Chris was working in retail at the time which meant him getting home later than me in the evenings and working at least one day every weekend. On a nice day I would sit with a book, my feet propped up on the railings, popping in and out for cold drinks. I would look at the view and listen to the sounds floating up from the street.

That summer the sounds that made me happiest were the songs that seemed to be everywhere in London at the time. A time when we would tune into pirate radio stations, the soundtrack almost inevitably something bouncy, the DJs would talk over it, rewind it, play it again. We would listen to 'Heads, Shoulders, Knees N Toes', 'In the Morning', 'Do You Mind', songs that made me smile, still make me smile, we would dance to them in our tiny kitchen.

So, now, hearing one song play in a taxi in Edinburgh I think of another one that played so frequently that summer. I think about sitting on the balcony in the sun hearing it blaring from a car on Stoke Newington Church Street. It still makes me smile, it still makes us dance in the kitchen.



Wednesday, 8 March 2017

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY

It’s been a rough start to the year and I’ve found myself a little blocked, emotionally, physically, generally. But International Women’s Day seems like a good time to unblock, or least to start the process of unblocking so on this day I’m going to offer you some things…

Some things to watch:

 
 


Some things to read:



'Red is so much more than a colour. It’s a statement of intent, a demand to be acknowledged, a sign of simultaneous individuality and sisterly solidarity. It quite simply does not give a fuck when we women so often give far, far too many.'

Some things to do:

Take part in a day without women in whatever way you can. Strike, wear red, don’t spend money or only spend it in small women or minority owned businesses like this


Something I wish I could see:



 And, finally, one last thing to watch:

 



Tuesday, 24 January 2017

JANUARY 2017

Happy new year!

I know I'm not alone in being preoccupied by the news this January. We went to the Women's March here on Saturday to stand alongside women all around the world. Seeing post after post on instagram and facebook from people doing the same on every continent felt like we were witnessing a giant outpouring of love and solidarity but it also made me realise that we can't do this one thing and then just stop. I feel, rightly or wrongly, limited in what I can do but then I thought about it.

I thought about the threat to Planned Parenthood in the US and the fact that in Northern Ireland women still can't have an abortion and realised that I can support a charity that helps them, along with women in Ireland and the Isle of Man, to travel to access safe abortions. Abortion Support Network.

I thought about the very obvious attempts by Trump to discredit journalism and the threat that poses and realised that I can support the place where I get most of my news. The Guardian.

I thought about people calling and writing to their representatives in the US and realised that I can and should be using my voice here as well, starting with a prompt from the organisers of the London Women's March. 10 actions.

It's just a start, but if we all view Saturday as a start rather than a one-off maybe, eventually, we'll get somewhere good.


Tuesday, 29 November 2016

CHRISTMAS 2016: FOR HIM


Clockwise from top left: Low Christmas because you listen to it together every year, bottled negroni and a new glass, spruce incense and an indigo quilt, a flock of starlings, the complete Michael Palin, spruce resin ointment and Santa socks, and finally, because he puts it on everything, a tiny bottle of sriracha that he can keep in his pocket.

Friday, 25 November 2016

CHRISTMAS 2016: FOR HER



Clockwise from top left: The Future is Female, an incense holder with Japanese incenseperfume oil, House of Plants with a succulent wrapped up alongside, a marble pyramid to hold her jewellery, a book she's been meaning to read, a new pink bowl and a tub of her favourite ice-cream, cream mittens and warm socks, the complete Parks and Recreation because we need more Lesley Knopes in the world, a winter bergamot candle, and, finally, a boob bathmat because it'll make her laugh.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

CHRISTMAS CAKE, AGAIN


I made my Christmas cake on Friday and not much has changed since I wrote about it four years ago.

I'm still making Nigel's cake and have been for, I think, 11 years now. I still use the same mix of dried fruit, I still bake it in late November or early December and then soak it regularly, sometimes with calvados, sometimes brandy. I still marzipan it and ice it and, most years, take it to Sussex to be eaten after Turkey sandwiches on Boxing Day.
 

I'm usually starting to feel ready for Christmas by this time of year but this year I've been feeling it a little more keenly. I've been putting things in jars ready to be presents since the Summer, we booked our flights south in September. I've been flicking through books planning what else to make, particularly Luisa's excellent book and its chapters on cookies and Christmas which have sent me online searching for baker's ammonia and gingerbread spices.

I'm going to be sharing some gift guides, just because I enjoy putting them together, but first, in case you want to make some of your presents donations to charity in the names of your favourite people, how about helping someone else to have a happy Christmas this year through Centrepoint.