Thursday 31 March 2016

The joy of reading ... when you're 10

We're having some very strange weather here in (usually) sunny Sant Feliu de Guíxols. Our early mornings are foggy with strange, dense mists blowing in from the sea. They burn off as the day goes on, but every morning when I open my shutters I find myself staring out into a real pea souper. It appeals to my inner sense of drama, and makes me wonder what mysteries might be concealed behind that wall of white ...

And during those foggy mornings, when he can't go out exploring with his faithful hound, young Emi has been spending his time reading this wonderful book, One dog and his boy, by Eva Ibbotson. It's a great tale of derring do, about one boy's battle with his over-bearing parents to keep a little dog called Fleck.

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Red Letter Paella Day ...

Today was a Red Letter Paella Day. Back home in sunny Sant Feliu de Guíxols there's nothing quite like paella de mariscos to keep the troops happy. It's the very taste of home.

And while I was working away in the kitchen I listened to a really interesting podcast by Jerry Brotton for the BBC History Magazine. He's just published a book This Orient Isle about the influence of Islam on Elizabethan England, focussing on how Elizabeth forged alliances with the great Islamic Empires of the day after she was excommunicated by the Pope, and how this, in turn, impacted upon English society. I've not yet read the book, but he wrote a great article on the subject for the March edition of the BBC History Magazine, and the podcast (link attached: Muslims and Jews in 16th Century England) is well worth listening to. It's such an interesting angle on a fascinating period of history.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Monday 28 March 2016

Happy Easter ...

... from the snowy mountains of Andorra.

Vall Nord Ski Resort, Andorra
Emi striding out with Victor, his ski instructor at Vall Nord
We're celebrating Easter with a helping of the white stuff. We've been spending our days skiing, and then coming back into town for the most amazing spa-pampering and fabulous food. And, of course, after all the calories we burn off up the mountain we can really tuck in and enjoy ourselves.

Wednesday 23 March 2016

the cheesemonger and his tomb in the leafy churchyard of St. Mary's, Ealing ...

When I'm going to South Ealing tube station I often take a shortcut past the allotments, and down the side of St. Mary's churchyard. St Mary's is a rather lovely old church. Most of the building dates from the eighteenth century with later Victorian and twentieth century additions.

 Now I have to 'fess up: I've always been fascinated by churchyards. To me they represent libraries filled with the life-stories of those interred within, all laid out and filed in a random system of headstones and tombs. 

And there's one large, distinguished-looking family vault, resting in a prime position just beside the wall of St Mary's church that's always made me pause.

The family name, Strudwick, sounded very solid and English and respectable to my Irish ears. And I've always wondered about the patriarch lying within, surrounded by several of his nearest and dearest. His rather succinct inscription reads: 

William Strudwick died December 30 1829 aged 60 years

The other morning I had to wait around for some workmen. I couldn't get on with any proper work of my own. But I had my laptop and an internet connection. So, to while away the time, I decided to do a little on-line detective work to see what I could unearth about this William Strudwick. 

Thursday 17 March 2016

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

The White Lough, County Tyrone
Top of the morning to you all! And a very happy St. Patrick's Day!

It's a bit weird, but we celebrate the good Saint's day on the anniversary of the day on which he is believed to have died: his death day.

Probably best not to dwell too much on the idea of a death day, can't see them catching on myself ...

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Wednesday 16 March 2016

just saying ... the thing about Mrs Arnolfini's lovely woollen dress ...

Jan van Eyck (circa 1390–1441) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Did you watch the Waldemar Januszczak series about the Renaissance on the BBC? It was really interesting. I was lucky enough to watch all 4 episodes as I was finishing off a project. I love catch-up telly when I'm working on something that leaves my brain free to enjoy all the good stuff that I never get to watch live-time.

In the first episode the wonderful Waldemar talked about this painting from the National Gallery painted by Jan Van Eyck in 1434. It's an odd little painting that I know well. In fact, truth be told, I could look at it for hours, like some kind of time-travelling voyeur. I mean, spare a thought for the fact that it's transporting us back half a millennium to this couple's bedroom in Bruges, then the textile capital of Europe. I should add that it was fashionable, back then, to entertain guests in your bedroom so that they could see (and sit on) your opulent textiles.

Saturday 12 March 2016

Fantastic Mr Fox ...

I got a surprise this morning when I looked out the kitchen window. There, larger than life and full of vigour, sat Fantastic Mr Fox on my garden wall, and he carried on sitting there staring in at me for at least half an hour. I was transfixed ... watching him ... watching me. He wasn't in the least bit timid. In fact he looked like the Lord of the Manor, surveying his domain.

Friday 11 March 2016

I wandered lonely as a cloud

That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd, 
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Okay, okay, I may be gilding the lily - or should that be the daffodil? -  a bit. In truth it's hard to do the lonely as a cloud thing on Ealing Common with the traffic thundering by on the Uxbridge Road, but it is just a little bit glorious out there at the moment with the wonderful mini-daffodils that are exploding with cheerful colour all over the grass. 

Wednesday 9 March 2016

In the pink ...

The weather here in London continues to put on a cold, grey face, but I'm resolutely clinging to the notion that spring must be just around the corner.

Notwithstanding the unseasonal gloom I spent a very happy day yesterday photographing my new collection of organic cotton 4 ply in all the wonderful shades of summer. It's a tricky business taking photos that accurately record the colour of yarn. My favourite place for indoor photography is in our south-facing conservatory, which has wonderful, clear, white light.

Monday 7 March 2016

The first Sunday ... way back on 7th March 321 A.D.

On this day in A.D. 321 the Roman Emperor, Constantine, issued an edict declaring that his subjects should henceforth observe Sunday, as a special day of rest. Today we tend to think of Constantine as the first Christian Roman Emperor, but he was also strongly associated with the pagan cult of Sol Invictus - the unconquered sun - after which he chose to name his special day.

Being a pragmatist he specified that the day of rest had to be observed by the non-essential workers in the cities who were obliged to close their workshops and take a day off. The folk who were involved in agriculture in the countryside, however, were given a special dispensation to carry on as normal - lest by neglecting the proper moment ... the bounty of heaven should be lost.

Sol Invictus was the official sun god of the later Roman Empire, and a patron of soldiers with a special appeal for the senatorial upper classes. Many Christians across the empire already treated Sunday as a day for religious observance, although a number in Rome and Alexandria preferred Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. And amongst the wider population Sunday was a popular day because it was frequently the workers' pay-day. 

So here's to Constantine, Sol Invictus, a day-off and the inauguration of a weekly holiday, a thoroughly civilised development.

All the best for now,

Bonny x

Sunday 6 March 2016

w.i.p. ...

Spring feels a bit like a work-in-progress at the moment. It's cold and chilly outside, but there are all the wonderful spring bulbs and seasonal flowers giving us a hint of better days to come.

I had to go into town last Thursday, and chose to follow the alleyway along the allotments that skirts the back of the churchyard. I walked under this amazing magnolia tree. And then I stopped, turned around and went back the way I'd come - just to have the thrill of walking under it again. Those big waxy flowers were so freakishly glorious against the perfect blue sky behind. I say freakish because they come before the leaves, and to my way of thinking that's just a little bit weird.

Wednesday 2 March 2016

Think invisible ... be invisible ...

When the Wonderdog doesn’t want to do something, he’s got a sneaky habit of disappearing. Sometimes it works, but other times it doesn't ...

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Bonny x

Tuesday 1 March 2016

Happy St. David's Day ...

... to all my friends in Wales!

And a very happy first day of meteorological Springtime to everyone else! Although here in deepest, darkest, greyest Ealing you could be forgiven for believing that Spring had missed its cue.

Still I'm looking forward to sunny days ahead, when I can spread my work onto the terrace, and throw my doors and windows open after all this closed-up-indoors winter living. Today may be a bit of a let-down on the sunshine front, but I'm sure there's plenty in the pipeline that's been specially earmarked for us by the weather gods.

So, for now, I'm grateful for the hellebores ...