Its Christmas !

On Monday I bobbed along to the Royal Academy of Art to catch up on a couple of exhibitions that I had been meaning to see and on the way home popped in to Fortnum and Mason for some teabags (as you do) when I happened to notice that there Christmas shop had opened (last week apparently) so I hopped into the lift giddy with excitement. 
It was everything I wanted it to be and more, the music, the scent, the baubles, oh it was marvelous. I was so happy as I wandered around admiring the splendour. 
I told Sis and she asked if it was better than the Stratford upon Avon Christmas shop, ‘Oh yes’ was my reply and ‘Harrods just pales into insignificance’.  
It is pricy, but it is lovely.
I’ll leave you with it. Enjoy.  
(only had iphone, sorry about the piccies).
 

There are no accidents…

Sometimes I feel like I am on a roller coaster in life, small decisions can change my whole world.  Sometimes I wonder if they are conscious decisions or not, I mean, how much of us is really conscious, do we not work on auto pilot by sleeping, eating, rearing our young, defending our homes and sources of comfort and nutrition.  Who knows what is really conscious?  What motivates us?  What gets us ticking? and Why?  There are times that I really wish I’d read Psychology, I know it would have been fascinating.

 We started to clear the garden of rubble, glass and roots and discovered much to our joy that the soil was very rich, the colour of an ancient flood plain, we felt much joy. 
And then we discussed whether we should have a mini allotment in our garden in London and what we would put in it.  And a few days after that we decided that it would be more sensible to put grass down and colourful blowsy flowers down the border.  
 But before we leave this photo, note the north and south divide of shadow, I’ve never had a south facing wall in the garden before.  
 So hubby dug and treaded down doing the gardeners shuffle and raked and we seeded and raked and watered, and that took two days,
and we also went to a garden centre and bought some herbs to start us off, thyme, sage, mint and rosemary which all smelt divine in the car coming home.  We also bought a fig tree, (which won’t be put near the foundations of the house – lesson learnt).
I was going to put the herbs in the right hand corner of the lawn, in full sun but in a pretty arch, and then I forgot and then we seeded the whole lawn.
Hubby put the fig tree in near the bottom of the garden in the right hand border and I said I might put the herbs there, near the house.
We have already decided to have summer and autumn raspberries against the shed, and maybe a vine (for the vine leaves for stuffed vine leaves, which are delicious) growing up it.
And then it hit us, an edible border, its obvious.  Such great soil, we can have a peach tree on the south facing fence and cherries, a couple of apple trees, one being a cooker, the other an eater, maybe a plum tree.  Runner beans and courgettes can be crammed in, with the scattering of seeds for beetroot and radishes and carrots and rocket.  Lots more lovely herbs, chives and basil, oregano and coriander can grow through the summer.  And if I’m really lucky I can squeeze in some tomatoes and peas against that lovely sunny wall.  
It will be a wonderful place to doze on a sunny afternoon, listening to the bumble bees pollinating the ruby red flowers on my runner beans with the aromatic oils in the herbs being gently released from the slight pressure of the heat. 
I am all for happy accidents. 

A toile for a blouse

On my adventures recently I picked up some light weight fabrics for a £1 a metre and a pattern for a blouse. I nearly didn’t pick this up because I am not normally a girl that wears white, (although I think this may be ingrained upon me because I normally live with a house full of animals and now I am on my own its not quite the same) but in the end I picked it up out of the rags bin, all 2.5 meters of it and paid the £2.50, along with the other fabric and the very expensive pattern in comparison.
I then picked up some iron on interfacing and white cotton and I was on my way.  A couple of days later I unwrapped the pattern and started to measure it, then remeasured myself and then did a little bit of maths and worked out where I needed the larger size (the bust) and where on the bust (the front, not the back) and where I was a size smaller (the waist but not the hips).  And made some decisions on the initial cutting out.  I then altered the armholes (because they were huge) and the sleeves, but kept the length of the sleeves as until you have made a toile up and tried it on you really don’t know exactly where the cuff will fall and how the sleeve will bend. 
And then I set to work cutting it out and making it up as you do.  But it was quite technical not made any easier by the fact that the fabric was almost identical in poor light on the right and wrong side and as I was aiming for something that might not be perfect but might still be wearable, the darkening evenings often stopped me working.  That and my brain sometimes just needed to think things through, hubby became used to long pauses in our telephone conversations accompanied with, ‘oh, that’s how it goes’ and a quick, ‘I’ll ring you back later’ as my subconscious brain had been working through the problems whilst I was chatting away.  Him being a bear of a very big brain which works on engineering problems of great complexity completely understood as I wandered away to put the next stage together.
And at the start of the week we got to something like this,
 With the cuffs looking like this. 
 And this morning we had finished all of the work apart from the buttons.  
So Sir Lancelot and I got the old button tin out, the one I had played with as a child that was given to me by my mother a few weeks ago.  But to be honest there wasn’t a full set of the 12 (or so) buttons I will need.
 So we got the other button tin out, given to me by my Mother in law, many years ago.
 And try as we might, Sir Lancelot and I couldn’t find enough of the same buttons that would work. 
Sir Lancelot suggested we go on a button finding mission, so I showed him on a map where there were some fabric shops I wanted to visit.  After Sir Lancelot got over the shock of seeing so many fabric shops together he said, ‘it was a very good idea but that he would have to consult his diary, and could I make a cake to take with us? As sustenance would definitely be required – and a Lion with the hunger shakes is not a pretty sight’.  I said I would.
 But until we get some buttons, here is the finished blouse.
 I am really pleased with it, I think its slightly short on the length of the sleeve, but not noticeably when I have my arms straight and I really need to read up on fittings to get a feel for what I need to do to alter that – if anything. 
 But it is smart and I’ve tried it on with a pair of smart black jeans and it looks quite classy – which is not like me at all.
Just got to find me some buttons.

When my twin sister came to London.

I’d like to introduce you to my twin sister, we have a tempestuous relationship, even at the best of times, think intense sibling rivalry along with being able to push each others buttons to cause maximum irritation and you’ll start to get a little closer to what our relationship is like.  But it is what it is and at the moment we are floating on calmer waters so in the interests of sisterly love I invited her to stay.  
 Friday night, straight out of Euston and into Cafe Rouge, several bottles of wine later, I have no idea how I got home apart from I can remember negotiating the tubes but not much more than that.  I did however finish cooking the meal and served us a lovely homemade lamb rogan josh with rice and bits and bobs. 
 Next morning we headed off to Harrods, but before we started our onslaught of the store we popped into a lovely restaurant across the road which served a very nice high tea.  It was very welcome.
 Suitably fortified we set forth.
 The Christmas floor was very pretty.
“Sorry girls” (to sis’s twin girls) “Mum couldn’t fit this teddy in her rucksack” 
And then I forgot to take anymore photo’s.  
That night the Cava came out to accompany supper and then the next day we popped down to Tate Britain to have a look at the Lowry exhibition, which I absolutely adored.   And then I had to call time and take an early bath, as I was dying and not very quietly, too much partying, I needed to go home and lie down in a darkened room.  Sis has the constitution of an Ox, but she could see how poorly I felt, so I dropped her back off at Euston on the way home.  
It was great to see her, we had a brilliant time, but I really can’t party like I used to. 

Its hot in the city, hot in the city, tooooniiiighhhtttt…..

It was very hot today, at 9 a.m. it was starting to scorch and so I made an executive decision, well as executive as you can when there is only me.  I need a big building that was air conditioned. So I went to the V&A and had a wander around the latest eighties exhibition, which was the greatest fun, not as fun as Bowie, should you be in a quandary as to which to see, but very good and most amusing.  To be honest we were stuck in Warwickshire during the eighties so didn’t see the height of fashion and we wouldn’t have had the money to follow it if we had, but we didn’t do too bad with the essence of it, I think we (that’s the royal we, because it certainly wasn’t me) nailed it as much as finances would allow.  I was a permed hair length to beyond shoulders, think Shena Easton with bat wing jumpers and tight jeans and Sis was more of a punk with short dyed blond hair that she spiked or curled depending on her mood, denim jacket and torn jeans (before it became fashionable). 
So that was amusing and I met a new friend. which was fun also. 
And then I decided I need a spot of retail therapy, not least because I needed a birthday card for a special occasion and decided that Harrods might be the place to go.  Just down the road, jumped on a bus, it was too hot to walk and jumped off again into the arms of an air conditioned store.  I stayed for quite a while, hours in fact.  It wasn’t difficult and I only did three of the is it, five or six floors.

A quick piccie of Harrods, Mandycharlie being in full tourist mode.
 And then I forgot to take photographs for quite a while until I saw this by McKenzie-Childs which made me giggle.  I do quite like it, I know its gaudy and over the top, but it makes me laugh.
 And a small section of other beautiful items by McKenzie-Childs, they are fun.  Is it the colour, – you know I like this colour- or is the work, I am not sure, I just like it.  The smallest colander you can see inside the big colander was £58.00 I stopped looking at the prices.  It is London, it is Harrods, what am I expecting?!  But it was nice to look.
 So just gone five I hopped back on the bus to get to South Kensington and decided to treat myself to a latte and this pastry was just too delicious looking to ignore – its carefully sat in my fridge at the moment waiting for after supper.
 When all of a sudden, these chaps appeared who started to serenade us, I managed to find some change in my purse, they were excellent fun.
 I loved the signage of South Kensington Station, it reminded me of Art Nouveau and the beautiful lettering and curves of that era. 
I am sure it was done on a budget though, one only has to look at Hector Guimard famous entrances to the Paris Metro to see what was possible at this time.  
Even so, it gave me joy to see it.