Wednesday, 31 May 2017

May 2017 - Garden peak time in London and Slovenia

This is the look Millie gives me when I leave the house without her.
Quietly worried but pulling herself together.

Frankly, May is a bit of haze.
I ate a lot and there were so many sick people around me including myself.
I never ever ever get sick of dim sum.

I have been a bit garden mad.
England in May is glorious and I was going to make the most of it.
This is my rice being washed.

Apparently rice water is so good for not just your skin 
( many Koreans now wash their face with the rice from the washed leftover -
 may sound weird but if you buy SKII then this is the cheaper version.)

Anyway, I save it for my plants and feed them this as a treat.

My husband is Taurus. 
God help me.
I just got 2 Cartmel Sticky toffee puddings instead of cake.
It seems unless the cake is excellent most people dread eating ceremonial food these days.

As my friends and I are hardened Londoners, 
we need to eat elsewhere to feel a buzz.
To go to the latest restaurant to see the same people we have bumped into for the past 20 
or so odd years just doesn't do anything for me.

So we went to Hisa Franko in Slovenia for a few days.
It was a perfect time to really chat without rushing off and getting some fresh air.
I love cheese popsicles.
These were made out of a local cheese but they are so easy to make but so festive and lift the mood.

What is impressive about the chef is that she was self taught.
Other than that she does what most chefs do now which is to use all local ingredients.

But the most interesting discovery was the Slovenian wines.
They were superb.
And on a side note, incredibly affordable.
If in doubt, just pick a Slovenian white next time you see it on the wine list.

We also found this cheesy, herbed friend dough balls 
but I forget the name.

Slovenia is as a friend put it - low rent Switzerland.
It was part of former Yugoslavia and now is in the E.U.
But we flew into Trieste in Italy.
Their espalier game was strong.

My friends and I were walking along discovering the local area but instead of backtracking we crossed this ditch. For us this was very Bear Gryllis.
I also saw 3 snakes in the 3 days I was there.

But the country is extraordinary even though small.
The river was that turqouise in real life.
#nofilter as they say

The restaurant which is also the hotel we stayed in had their own kitchen and flower cutting garden.
They had peonies on every dining table.

I got a new breed of roses called Olivia Austin named after 
David Austin's granddaughter.
They bloom like mad but that could be my rice water.

For those of you who didn't watch the nightly BBC Chelsea Flower Show coverage, 
Monty wore such a funny tie.
Twitter was lighting up about it.

Many of the show gardens at Chelsea are donated and replanted in public parks 
but I wonder what park would have this quarry garden? 
Health and safety issues all over it.

I am going to be ordering from Blom bulbs to have more tulips next spring.

I am trying to achieve this clematis and rose look but am so far off.

Chelsea has also inspired me to go strawberries but my husband had to rein me in.

PS If you ever drop you phone in water, do not keep it in rice for 3 days like  I did.
Go to a store and fix it ASAP.
They might be able to salvage it with a special drying solution.

I know officially Mercury Retrograde was over weeks ago but I think the effects are still lingering.

Hope you are well and can you believe it is June tomorrow??? x

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Chelsea Flower Show 2017

This was the Maltese Quarry Garden that won both gold medal and best in show this year at Chelsea.

It was the first garden one saw as one entered but then it went downhill from there.

Like wine, 
I think Chelsea has vintage years 
and those that don't fare so well.

All those stones on the lake beach will be taken back to the Yorkshire beach it came from.

It was a bit worrying when trade stands were inspiring me more than the actual show gardens.

Plus, I was extra anxious as I took my reluctant husband for the first time so I wanted him to enjoy it and see why I went every year.

It wasn't so much the quality of the gardens as frankly most of us would be lucky to have any one of the gardens and trade stands they have at the flower show.

It was the lack of the show gardens this year on the main avenue.

What should have been a show garden was a driftwood sculpture show stand.

Brexit was to blame apparently.

Applications closed just after the Brexit result 
and many of the big spenders and corporations were so shocked by the result they had put non essential projects on hold 
so there weren't as many applications.

Or so they tell me as I found nothing Chinese about it.

Monty Don found this garden jarring and I agree.
I was hoping it would look better in real life and it didn't.

One of the highlights of the show was a paper menu at one of the venues in the show that could be planted afterwards just to cover with soil and water.

You can see the black seeds in the paper.

This is my star plant of the show and will plant next year.
Meconopsis is her name.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

The Delicate Balance of Clashing in Home Decor

I have had various drafts on this subject for years now, 
especially with the revived and reinterpreted trend 
of having various styles of textiles 
in the form of scatter cushions, 
bed spreads, upholstery in the home.
The clashing also applies to disparate art and furniture of course.

This "trend" always existed of course, 
but in the form of haphazard placement with no intent of clashing. 

This was out of either economic duress where one couldn't afford new textiles so one made do with existing items.

Think World of Interiors

These two pictures I took from 
the May 2017 issue of World of Interiors. 
The one above is a Moroccan farmhouse and below is an Edwardian home.

Or it was the other end of the financial scale and 
it might have been in a home where 
one doesn't necessarily inherit but 
where one is a custodian so nothing really belongs to you. 

One had to accept your great grandmother's cushions that were made out of her bridesmaids dresses 
or the velvet curtains were from your grandfathers home in India 
so nothing could be removed as everything had literally monumental value.

Think Chatsworth


But like a stew,
 be it of vegetable scraps or of the finest cuts of meat, 
time tends to mellow out the differences and they tend to fuse. 
But then I do believe in the power of fermentation and maturation of things over time.

This is a picture from Pinterest from a Swedish blogger from
the earlier days of blogging from 2009 ( thereabouts) but she has since quit blogging to go professional.
I can't find the name of the blogger as this picture was stored in my iCloud.
This picture spawned many a copy cat - at the time - this picture was a hit and I still like it.

I find many intent clashes of material fail, 
partly for the same reasons 
why shabby chic tends to fail. 
Because it is forced.

It is like abstract art, 
I can not articulate 
what the formula to a successful arrangement is. 
If I could,
 decor would be maths and not a creative domain.

This is the bedroom of Ben Pentreath via
This is a modern and fresh interpretation of mixing prints a l'anglais.

And before you go, here she goes again.

I think like most things, 
there is a balance.

Or it is very personal.

If you like how it is in your home then there is no reason to change it but these things tend to filter down from pros to civilians.

But it seems like no one is stating what is evident publicly.
A bit like the decor version of the emperor's new clothes.

Via Nick Olsen instagram

When I saw Nick Olsen's room in the annual design event the is the Kips Bay shophouse, 
I thought it was time to post.

I am not picking on him perse
 but using his room to illustrate what 
I feel very deflated about decor done for PR 
that gets infiltrated into the suburbs.

He is not a civilian but a person of note in his field 
so I think even if he were to read this, 
he really wouldn't be bothered.

He has influence and I do like his portfolio 
and his success is much deserved.
He has worked under some design heavy hitters such as Miles Redd and one can see that influence.


Some of the people who go see his room 
and get inspired by it will have the means to get a designer to recreate the mood of the room in their own home. 
But many will attempt this on their own. 

In what appears to be a clash, 
there is a thread that is actually from the matchy matchy school.

It is easy to say - 
I like it, hate it, don't mind it - 
but I wanted to articulate in concrete terms 
why I feel the way I do.

The best I can come up with is this.

There is a terracotta/ochre color in the folding screen in the left 
that ties into the colorblocking in the large painting in the centre that matches the paint details in the curtain pelmet on the right.
The accent color is also in the sofa and the accent in the rug.

In fact, I think the pelmet ruins the room as a whole.
But that is another talk show.

I have tried putting my finger over the pelmet to block it from view
and the rest of the room is rather nice albeit cramped.


Usually there is no proper tie, 
the cohesive thread is not as obvious as this. 

successful outcome is rather like a built up gallery wall of art by one owner. 
It may seem disparate but there is a fundamental core base on which the person bought each artwork even if one is a watercolour or an oil with different subject matters.

For me, this room looked forced and 
I think that is why it doesn't resonate with me.

I think this room is a great space minus 20%.
This study section of the room is one I would be more than happy with.
The walls are fabulous and the furniture placement is one of a professional touch.

In the article in the Washington Post, 
it says that he was going for 1930's American expat in Paris.
I suppose it does evoke something of that era.


But then I must remember decorators like most professions nowadays must scream for attention and grab headlines. 
This seems like the design soundbite equivalent of a politician who is up for election.

So I need to remind myself 
to see these spaces with that in mind 
and try to distill the essence of the room rather 
than taking things so literally.

But as always, the main rule of thumb is do what you like!

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

My Ladylike Clothing Staple for How I Wear My

 Regular readers know that I don't know OOTD ( outfit of the day) because I am a bore and I dress even more boringly. 
A side note is that my weight fluctuates 
like Oprah's during the 80's 
so I am limited in that I refuse to invest in bigger size clothing 
yet can't fit into half of my wardrobe.

I enjoy other's outfit posts however.

So in the spirit of not being a voyeur and to participate a bit more, 
I submitted a picture to
Jill's blog, Everything Just So in her monthly themed round up 

This is one of my favourite items of clothing that I rely on certain occasions and I can't believe I nearly said no to this when my mother got it for me for Christmas nearly a decade ago. 
( I wanted a holiday hotel credit but she thought that was crazy.)

So click here for my reliable coat dress.

After you see the terrible lighting and the hapless pose you will understand why I don't do these more often!
Thanks for including me in the How I Wear My monthly edition!