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"Pure style is my way of life... a blueprint for living in the 21st Century"
A christmas rose
15 December 2015


 Against the drab died-back look of winter the last few roses (see here, a John Clare specimen) decorate the garden in defiant shots of frivolous summer pink. I cut some blooms for the table to join candles and a bowl of aromatic  clementines in a simple festive still life.

 In the season for boxes of delights, I find particular pleasure in unpacking after a year`s rest in the attic  irisdescent baubles and a peg doll fairy for the tree.  And, there is all the hope and spring potential in the tulip and allium bulbs.  Arriving in boxes by mail order, they are tucked amongst  newspaper bedding, in net sacks and brown paper bags with special holes to keep the bulbs cool and dry. It is worth noting that most bulbs should be planted at a depth that allows twice their own height of soil above them.  Shallower planting is ok but the bulbs are unlikely to perform well after their first year, and  there is the added danger of being easier to be scavenged by squirrels. I have just finished planting about 300 pink tulips (including Blue Heron and Recreado) purple giant fluffy alliums (Gladiator and Globemaster). Do hope  the  rain and sogginess  will dry up for spring or I fear the consequent snail plague will be not only a threat to the young foliage but an unwelcome preoccupation.









Hooray, the last bulb is in. Time for a warm up by the fire!


Tags: christmas, roses, pink, winter, bulbs, garden


Pure colour 2015
06 January 2015


Pure Style colours 2015 via a  day glow yellow t shirt  and pink string from my present pile. You`ll see more inspiration  when my new Colour book comes out in April!




Frosted rose bud  is almost the very very last one before I take the secateurs and prune the rose bushes in time  for spring.




All the way from the balmy fields of the Scilly Isles : scented narcissi arrive packed in folds of tissue paper .




Lime green  paperwhite bulb shoots and moss bedding make me feel that there`s life and vibrancy even in early January grey gloom



There`s the promise of more pink scented  blousy rose blooms with 2  St Swithins  climbers  that I will train up the metal arches in the garden..

Tags: winter, colour, pink, yellow, garden, roses,


The colours of autumn
06 November 2014


I understand how it is easy to fall  into a depression after the completion of an intensive project(school exams the exception).  It`s all over, what to do next?  I delivered my Pure Colour book a few weeks ago  and felt stunned for a few days. But as someone who is always  keen to curl up with a glass of wine and a good read, or catch up on films  and generally reward myself with art, food and natural  beauty, I have avoided a pit of despondency. Rather there is a feeling of  relief, almost disbelief that  I got to the finishing line and everything is in the bag.  





The Indian summer autumn this year is as vivid as the hyper-coloured dreams I experienced during the putting together of the book A kind of affirmation that there is brilliance and beauty in the everyday, and how we need  look no further than a view from the window to see a spectacular  blue sky or  trees with fluttering leaves in reds and pinks and golds.




On Halloween I ditched the pumpkins and eerie candlight for a swim at the Lido. Sparkling blue water (tres bracing I must admit) and sunbathing  in  21C  made it seem  more Miami than Brixton beach.  Mixed muddly climate change  conditions or typical unpredictable English island weather?






You have got to see Mr Turner,  funny, enlightening and as (almost) visually beautiful as the paintings at The late Turner exhibition at the Tate.  I also recommend the dancing and rhythms in Northern Soul,




  Nature is so much more interesting than reading that the John Lewis Christmas ad is out.  This morning it was the first frost and tonight it will be  full moon. First thing  I pull on a sweater over my nightie and go out into the garden  all autumn  damp and with an  earthy country smell  to  snap the frosted leaves and  jam jar night lights on the table by the shed. 








Tags: autumn, PureColour, frost, roses, lido, swimmming, garden,


A rose, cake and colour
05 February 2014

Daughter can`t get to job and  assistant stuck on bus for two hours. Poor show, striking Tube people and your big brother  boss B.Crow last seen sunning hairy belly on Rio Beach.  But this, and ongoing flood/mud/rain/wind/gloom story  brightened by lone survivor of my  roses, a brilliant John Clare bloom. Also, cheering thoughts of  the  toasted pistachio gorgonzola tagliatelle taste sensation at Zucca a few weeks ago and, look here, chocolate brownies baked by middle daughter for her younger sister`s` birthday tomorrow.  (From Felicity Cloak`s Perfect, and they do taste, just that).




  Inspired by a yellow  Habitat chair on a shoot a couple of months ago , I  thought you`d like to see my  paint update on a chipped and worn chair in my office.    Off I  go  to the paint shop to see if I  can recreate the same  lime green/acid yellow colour  that reminds me of  all things springlike  e.g see  the   angelica flower head I  shot in an Algarve meadow last year. I pick `Tarragon Glory` from Dulux  and it works well. I cheated and bought quick drying emulsion  which, of course won`t wear as well as an oil based eggshell, but I do rather prefer matt painted finishes all round.

















Tags: roses, , winter, paint, spring, yellow , home cooking


Things I Like this week
18 October 2013


More local finds at Herne Hill market on Sunday: hand dyed green vintage  Witney blanket from a stall laden with  blankets and throws (every other week )in great colours; a flagon of cider delicious. aromatic and alcoholic   from  Core Fruits 01227 730589  to go with a brace of pheasants  I roasted from the next door but one stall; just round the corner is Lowie, with great handknits and vintage rails  amused to see Lady Di -style  frilled high - neck Laura Ashley frocks






Cheered by  vibrant pink, whether its lipstick or roses (see the  last of  the John Clares in the garden  ) I like the idea that  warm coats in pink sorbet colours are fashion themes this winter. Which reminds me, you should go to   Vanessa de Lisle`s blog for some of the best fashion wisdom in the business.





It`s good to  see the Pure Style borders featured in this month`s copy of the World of Interiors




  Simple idea: nature lamps from Dan, who`s looking for stockists. Contact Danartland@yahoo.co.uk.





Simple pleasures: the dentist`s quinces look so beautiful I don`t want to cook them. And I`m reading  Rakesh Sarin and Manel Baucells    where the   `fundamental question ` of wellbeing is  happiness equals reality minus expectations. Cool!



Tags: blankets colour texture roses


Summer cool
03 August 2013

  We are in summer, real summer (last one was 2006) with  the almost forgotten sensations of  sticky heat on skin, cooling  swims at the Lido and the garden smelling more sweet  and meadow-like as the mercury rises.  The heat seals the season`s scents: ziplocked sweat ,rose petals ,hot pavements, bbq sausages and factor 30. I keep cool and fragrant with a squirt of  cologne  and and eat ice cream. My sister  piles a carton high with blackcurrants from  her garden which I simmer  in sugar and water, cool whisk into whipped double cream and freeze.
A friend emailed:  "George and I made your lemon ice cream a few days ago -which was simply sublime especially eaten before it had set`  See said ice cream from the summer section of my book  Pure Style Recipes for Everyday




What a treat to duck under the shade of the  apple tree and read the 2nd issue of The Foodie Bugle mag.  It is like a well stocked larder of delicious information and visual inspiration. Immediately drawn of course to the piece entitled `The Taste of Portugal`"


 

 
The house is a busy shoot destination this summer, and props and crew can spill over into the garden without the threat of a drop of rain.  
Just as well, when Coca Cola turn up with  plus 30  individuals, fridges , ovens, turkeys  and enough Coke to keep the area`s dentists in work for years. The theme is Coke and food, and involves a  Coca cola `family` most of whom look like you and me, except for a brooding model  hunk who spreads across the doorstep in between takes like a shaggy dog .  




Just as it`s so good to waft about in summer frocks and bare legs, the hot weather gives me so much pleasure on the housewifely front.  When the washing dries warm and toasty in the space of an hour  I feel a flush of domestic euphoria. Similarly I`ve been itching to give the rush mats a good scrub  and here I am, hosing them down with gusto.





Pink poppies are  welcome garden invaders maybe encouraged by the sun because they didn`t appear last year.






 The sprinkler and he hissing of summer lawns couldn`t be more suburban and cool.









Want to feel cool and floaty? invest in a hippy cotton nightie from  Denny Andrews





Cool sea blue ceramics by Sue Binns are summer essentials. (Green string,  an Olaho hardware shop stalple)





  Pink white, purple and green , the cool colours of summer in a  jug of flowers on my table.





 

Tags: summer, garden, roses, floral fabrics,


 
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