The Empty Nest





In the 5 months since my last post I've been busy.  I've teamed up with a friend for a new blog journey - one for mums who are entering the period leading up to our children leaving home, it's called Back To Life.

If you are interested in following me on this new journey you can find us here.  Thank you for reading, following and commenting, I've 'met' some great people here and had a lot of fun.


Thank you everyone.


Reading Material



I have just finished reading Toast and Marmalade by Emma Bridgewater, it is part biography, part catalogue for EB ceramics and part living the bucolic dream.  As you would expect, it is lavishly illustrated with photographs - of her ceramics, her home, and her family.  It's a very evocative book - musing on the link between our early memories and what we surround ourselves with to make us happy home dwellers in adulthood.  Emma's passion for ceramics and patterns clearly goes back in a straight line to her childhood and her late mother.



I find the link between early childhood memories and why we surround ourselves with what we do now, fascinating.  Another book that muses on this emotional elastic cord is Justine Picardies' book My Mothers Wedding dress. She traces her love of clothes, fashion and fabric back to the influences of her childhood - and her mother - and her mothers black wedding dress.





Certain colours and fabrics can certainly directly propel me back to childhood.  My strongest fabric memory is of my grandmothers bedroom curtains.  They were white and a lovely pale yellow stripe - with a floral design over the top.  In fact I've just googled the description and it came up with Sanderson Rosebud and Candy stripe - that's it below.  Isn't the internet wonderful!



When my daughter was very young she appropriated one of my scarves to take to bed with her - it was an old one (I'm getting allergic to the word 'vintage' it just seems to have lost all meaning), bought from Covent Garden when they had a clothes market, back in the very early 80s.  Cream silk with red polka dots and a beautifully rolled and hand stitched red border, with an (unknown to me) French signature on it.  She now has a collection of polka dotted objects in her bedroom. No coincidence I'm sure.

I had thought of making my daughter a quilt made of fabric from clothes of hers and the rest of the family that I have squirrelled away.  I'm not a needlewoman, so it may end up being an outsized cushion, then when she is no longer at home she will still have a little piece of home with her. 



Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

What an inspired idea and a wonderful way to honour the lives lost in The Great War.




It was a bright sunny day when I went to The Tower of London.  Volunteers were working hard to assemble the handmade poppies -  a 4 part process - stem in the ground first, followed by a handmade, ceramic poppy head, and finally the black centre to secure it.



888,246 poppies are being 'planted' to commemorate each life lost on the battlefield.  You can buy one of the poppies online for £25 + P & P. All of the monies raised from their sale will go to families of service personnel.


The installation was conceived and designed by Paul Cummins and is being assembled by volunteers.


Blood Swept Lands will be finished by 11th November -  in time for Remembrance Day.


It felt very upbeat.  The volunteers were clearly proud of their role, the crowds were amazed by the scope of the installation.  The blazing sun meant it felt more like another city - not our familiar rain cloaked, grey skied capital.  Bright colour on this scale is not something Londoners are used to.


I don't know which organisation the volunteers came from, but I envied them coming together to create such a beautiful memorial. I'm not sure I will envy the people who will deconstruct it in November though!


I couldn't help but wonder what previous residents from times past would have made of the sight of a sea of red, spreading like a stain in the moat surrounding the bloody tower.



You can clearly see a path running through the poppies that leads to a green hillock that will presumably play a part in the ceremony on Remembrance Day .


If all the poppies sell, 15 million pounds will be raised, over 2 million pounds has been raised so far.

I hope they sell every single one.






A Very Grand Design Indeed

The most amazing house and garden - Great Dixter 


an Elizabethan house and the most exuberant 21st century garden







  even succulents got involved







Someone else looking at these told me they were called Ladybird poppies. 











Ferns - against the backdrop of brick, wood and fretwork.



the lily pond


Grass and Gunnera


What a gate should look like


attention to detail - finial and etching


I've no idea what this plant is called, have only ever seen it in Cornwall - my children christened them Honey Hives.


His Royal Hotness - Lucifer


stunning specimens


Wonderful fencing 


dashes of lemon and lime


there were tunnels and vistas






clever juxtopositions


delicious combinations



A path edged to perfection


luxe Lupins





 the most exciting colour combinations


the cat even works well on the bench!


the left hand side of the Long Border 


the right hand side 


colour and texture play


around the back


a Victorian watering cart


An beautiful barn



I love the tile pillars


until next time...