31 August 2008

walk to walker

On Friday morning, Jaye and I took the train into London, then walked along the Thames to the Design Museum to see Tim Walker Pictures.

Not being an avid reader of fashion magazines, I wasn't familiar with Walker's photographs. But his work is so much more than the ordinary series of glossy spreads. I was utterly and completely entranced. The images had the most fabulous Alice in Wonderland quality:

Tim Walker, Lily Cole and Spiral Staircase, Whadwan, Gujarat, India, 2005,
British Vogue

And they invariably captured a very English sensibility:

Tim Walker, Otis Ferry and His Foxhounds, Shropshire, England, 2007, Vanity Fair

The photographs were complemented by numerous pages from Walker's scrapbooks as well as a few rather amazing props from the shoots.

Tim Walker Pictures is most definitely worth making a trip into London for. Now I just need to save up my pennies (lots and lots of them) for the limited-edition exhibition catalogue!

29 August 2008

pottering in petersham

G very kindly took a holiday from work yesterday to help me run errands. One of the tasks on my list was to return my contest entry form to Petersham Nurseries. I haven't actually won a contest since elementary school, but I keep trying...

The hydrangeas were spectacular:

G was particularly fond of this arrangement in the restaurant:

It was unusually quiet, so we managed to get a table for lunch without a booking. A very nice break after a busy morning.

While I've eaten in the teahouse many times, this is only the second time I've eaten in the restaurant. The table arrangements were lovely. I particularly liked the pots of purple peppers (a great tongue-twister):

But then again, the arrangements at Petersham are always amazing:

As is the food. I had salt cod brandade, which was delicious. The first time I ate in the restaurant, I had wild salmon carpaccio with olive oil, lemon, and pea shoots. So although the menu changes daily, I do feel I can wholeheartedly recommend the fish.

And I'm pretty sure this little guy, whom G found napping in one of the greenhouses, would also enjoy the fish:

27 August 2008

a book and a bun

After lunch, we headed into Abingdon for afternoon tea with Jane Brocket. The event was organized by the bookshop where Ali works, Mostly Books.

Jane spoke about her new book Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer:

She also read passages from her favorite children's books and showed us how to decorate buns with her trademark technicolor icing and jelly beans.

I transported my bun home in my new Cup-a-Cake carrier:

The Cup-a-Cake worked brilliantly, and the bun was delicious. I'll definitely be using orange or lemon juice (rather than water) to thin my icing sugar from now on: the tart citrus tempers the sweetness of the sugar perfectly.

And for everyone at the tea who was taken with Jane's gorgeous paste colors, I just unpacked a new shipment of little pots in the shop today--only £2.99 each!

25 August 2008

a natter

This was the scene Saturday morning as we set off for Ali's house: Betty Beetle with a basket of goodies and a book to be signed...

We had the most wonderful lunch with Ali and Andy, Mark and Johnny, Alice, Monica, and the lovely Karen, who I'm sure will have a blog of her own very soon.

G had a fab time playing football with Mark and Johnny, but all the girl talk around the picnic table put him to sleep--literally!

We had so much fun chatting away. And the food was delicious. Just look at Ali's gorgeous cupcakes:

What could possibly make such a splendid day even more splendid? A visit with Jane Brocket, of course...

22 August 2008


The weather has finally brightened up a bit, which is good for the tomatoes. And here's an assortment of other veggies from yesterday's harvest:

The only veggies missing from the picture above (other than the tomatoes) are the cucumbers, the seeds for which came all the way from America (thank you, Cece!). There must be hundreds of cucumbers. They're even more prolific than the courgettes (zucchini).

In my search for cucumber recipes, I actually found one for cucumber ice cream. But I think I must draw the allotment ice cream making line here!

21 August 2008

i say to-may-to...*

I still can't abide tomato sauce on my pizza. But Rachel has converted me to the glories of oven-roasted cherry tomatoes, and as we now have loads on the plot, this seems a fab way to use them:

After just a short time in the roasting tin, they're so super-sweet and tasty!

And we have new 'pizza night' plates! I dithered over them for ages in the Emma Bridgewater sale last month. I'm so happy I finally gave in.

* I do say to-MAY-to, and everyone--and I mean everyone--immediately corrects me with a very firm to-MAH-to!

17 August 2008

another scoop

Presenting our latest frozen dessert from the allotment: raspberry sherbet. It has the most amazingly vibrant raspberry flavor.

The recipe is from David Lebovitz' The Perfect Scoop, my frozen dessert bible. I was hoping to make raspberry ice cream but was limited by the ingredients I had on hand. So ended up working in true allotment spirit and 'made do'!

14 August 2008

midcentury modern

My latest Virago Modern Classics read: A Far Cry from Kensington by Muriel Spark. The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie has been on my to-read list for ages, so I was quite keen to see how I got on with Kensington:

While the repetition of a certain vulgar phrase proved somewhat maddening, the novel was compulsively readable and the heroine highly entertaining. I particularly liked the snippets of 'advice' she dispensed so convincingly: at one point she very nearly persuaded me to adopt a cat (quite impossible in our small flat)!

The cover features the textile design 'Calyx' by Lucienne Day. 'Calyx' was launched at the Festival of Britain in 1951 and is now considered an icon of Midcentury Modern design, a style and period I love. And I think this print by artist Angie Lewin captures a similar spirit:

Alliums and Fennel by Angie Lewin

Angie Lewin's prints are inspired by her surroundings in Norfolk as well as her own interest in Midcentury Modern design. I'm big fan, and G and I are really looking forward to attending her forthcoming exhibition at St. Jude's Gallery in Aylsham.

07 August 2008

plain vanilla

I know the fashion is for Hummingbird-style cupcakes with towers of brightly colored icing and handfuls of sparkly sprinkles and dragées.

But sometimes I just have a yen for a plain vanilla cupcake with a schmear of snowy white buttercream:

Sometimes simple is best.

06 August 2008

factory girl, part two

Just a few more pictures from my Emma Bridgewater factory visit last week...

In one of the courtyards:

Injecting the slip into the molds:

Clay for recycling:

Painting 'Starry Skies':

I was secretly hoping to come upon some 'Cambridge Blue' (my favorite pattern, now sadly discontinued) in a dusty back corner, but no such luck. The factory was far too tidy in this regard!

03 August 2008

factory girl

Emma Bridgewater pottery is perhaps one of the few things I love even more than ice cream. So I was over-the-moon to be invited to the Bridgewater stockists' Open Day in Stoke-on-Trent.

The factory tour was amazing. I'd never realized how truly 'handmade' Bridgewater pottery is. Every step is done by hand: injecting the slip into the molds, unmolding the pieces, removing the seams, glazing, decorating, firing...

Along the way, we met and chatted with the employees, who were all incredibly friendly and took real pride in their work.

While customers in the shop are sometimes taken aback by the price of Bridgewater, I can now say hand-on-heart that it is worth every penny. In fact, I'm surprised it doesn't cost more considering the time invested in each piece.

After the tour, we were treated to a wonderful picnic lunch in the factory courtyard, which was followed by an impassioned speech by Matthew Rice (Emma's husband) on the importance of buying British. Well said!

And finally, here's a picture of Matthew designing a special plate, which will hopefully be on its way to its recipient (can you guess?) very soon: