Wednesday, 16 May 2018


Today I'm playing "Liberty Camouflage" with lilac. One of my favourite Liberty prints teamed with my favourite shrub.

The print is “ArchiveLilac” by Liberty of London: “Taken from a tiny paper sample in the Liberty London Archive, this Liberty London Fabric takes inspiration from Alice’s journey through the Garden of Live Flowers, where flowers talk and chatter and help her on her way.” It’s interesting that the design survived originally as a paper sample as I can absolutely imagine it as wallpaper. The first time I saw this fabric in this colour, I was reminded of a print my sister had in her kitchen, of Van Gogh’s Almond Blossom, and I still think about the painting every time I wear this top.

I bought the fabric on a fun day out with Rebecca from Poshyarns and we got lost in the rain because we were chatting too much (not the first nor the last time!) and spent hours browsing the amazing selection of Liberty fabrics in Shaukat. I am so lucky to have a friend with a similar love of Liberty fabrics!

I have made many tops with Liberty tana lawn, but I tend to use different prints to those I use in my work. I prefer bolder, often more geometric Liberty prints, whereas the colourful gifts I make for my shop tend to use the smaller, ditsy floral prints. That being said, I still only work with fabrics that sing to me and make me happy.

I love this time of year when the big blousy shrubs bloom – the bouquets of rhododendron flowers, brilliantly-coloured azaleas and, best of all, the heady scented lilac. Today is, I think, “peak lilac”: the flowers are all out, perfectly white and scented with fresh green leaves.

It is so transient – I know that by next week, individual flowers will be browning, leaving each bract looking singed and past its best, so I am spending time breathing in the sight and smell of them. I’ve cut some lilac to bring indoors, although it never lasts quite as long as I hope. The wonderful Jane from Snapdragon wrote some tips on her blog on makingspring flowers last longer and she kindly gave me some advice for lilac longevity.

I certainly don't have green fingers, particularly indoors, so I need to make sure to make the most of these gorgeous blooms outside for the few days they have left.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Simple pleasures

Sometimes I build things up to be really more complicated than they should be. I need to concentrate on the simple things and learn from the small people:

getting completely absorbed in a Scooby Doo magazine,

the joy of skeleton pyjamas,

the hours of fun to be had from a cardboard tube.

A lot to learn.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010


This is the view I currently get as I go downstairs in the morning.

It brings light to my heart.

I love peonies and their endless tissue-papery layers.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Precocious eating

Some days I despair of my sons' eating habits. The older two are like Jack Sprat and his wife and enjoy completely different bits of each meal. And then the youngest manages to like all the things that neither of the others would dream of eating. I have days where I long for them all to eat pizza; never going to happen:

Son 1: "Too much cheese!"
Son 2 "Too much tomato!"
Son 3 "Is yucky!"

but then when we go to Carluccio's they will hoover up a plate of antipasti with enormous relish. How can they love marinated anchovies and yet retch at the mere mention of tuna? What have they got against peas? How is it that one of them loves only the insides of baked potatoes and yet won't touch mash - IT'S THE SAME THING!!!

So lunch today brought a happy surprise. Here is Guy (3) learning to love taramaslata. I'll just have to accept that they are precocious eaters.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Ten things I hadn’t expected to learn this week

  1. I can get from my front door in East Sussex to the Intensive Care Unit at Wansbeck District Hospital in Northumberland in 6 hours flat. Not a fact I’d ever planned on knowing, and certainly one I never want to verify again, but it’s been a hell of a week. My parents were on holiday in Northumberland when they were involved in a serious car accident. My father is being discharged today after exactly one week with a broken hand, injured wrist, cracked rib and extensive bruising. My mother has been moved from Intensive Care to the High Dependency Unit and is making great progress. We can’t wait to get her back to Sussex.
  2. It is approximately 200 paces between the Critical Care Unit at Wansbeck Hospital and the Orthopaedic ward, Ward 6.  I have walked that corridor many, many times this week.
  3. I never again want to hear the phrase “Given the velocity of impact…..” Too frightening to think about.
  4. I am more of an optimist than my two sisters, although I think there were moments last week that it seemed more like denial than optimism. I am hoping, however, that my optimism was justified as my parents are both making an amazing recovery.
  5. Laughter really is the best medicine, at least when your ailments aren’t physical. The three of us sisters have laughed a LOT in a last week, and I think it has kept us sane.
  6. My mother’s life doesn’t stop being busy just because she is lying in a hospital bed. She has been terribly worried about missing appointments or letting people down. She has scoured the pages of her diary hundreds of times this week in an effort to make sense of her current circumstances. There were times early on when in her head she was out shopping or on her way to pick up her grandchildren and however many times we told her not to worry, that everything had been sorted out, she still couldn’t let go. While many people would relish the idea of sitting quietly with nothing to do, my mother is certainly not one of them.
  7. My parents don’t travel light. The charge nurse in A&E who dealt with my parents when they were brought in by ambulance said he had never met anyone with so many things in their pockets as my father. Not only did he have a lot of pockets, there were objects in every single one of them which all had to be inventoried. When my sister went to clear out their car, it was the same story: every eventuality had been planned for – sun hats and warm hats, smart shoes and walking boots, fleeces and formal jackets, snacks and drinks, maps, guidebooks, reading books and newspapers. I suppose that after decades of travelling together they know exactly what they need, and what’s the point of being without it if you have room in the car?
  8. Having a rather expensive goose down pillow at home is lovely, but it pretty much guarantees a cricked neck when using hotel pillows instead.
  9. I rather like supermarket clothes. Having thrown a few things in a bag, it was a relief to have a 24-hour Asda near the hospital. Somehow it was easier to buy new clothes than work out how to find a launderette.
  10. I have full confidence in the NHS. I’ve always had good experiences with the NHS anyway (and we’re lucky to have an excellent GP in the village) but the care my parents – particularly my mother – have received this week has been outstanding. We were asked so many times by my father’s nurses about my mother’s progress and vice versa and we would also hear that their doctors had been liaising – it all felt like a very holistic process. Knowing they were receiving such good care certainly made a terrible week slightly easier. 

I’m sure I’ll learn new things this week too. I just hope they’re really mundane and boring and don’t involve those horrible adrenaline-fuelled lurches of dread and fear that we had so many times last week.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The meaning of flowers

For so many years a bunch of primroses would remind me of Mothering Sunday: lining up with all the other Brownies in church to have our bunch of primroses blessed before giving them to our mothers. Now, when I see the first tiny palest yellow buds in the garden, they always bring to mind this most precious of moments:

the minute my parents brought our older two boys back home to meet their new brother three years ago today. The boys gave me two lovingly gathered posies - more precious by far than all the bouquets of exotic flowers we received in the following days.

Happy Birthday, lovely Space Ranger. 3 today!

Thursday, 18 March 2010


I've been really pleased with my new range of bibs (note, it's heavy on the boy bibs. Wonder why?!). I found the beautiful dark navy polka dot fabric in the remnant bin at a fabric shop and can't stop using it. Thankfully I've now found a new supply as it is my current fabric of choice and seems pretty popular with customers.

I do have plans for some bibs without spots, but, I don't know, the spots are just such fun to sew with. I'm also updating my range of t-shirts, which sold really well over Christmas. Sewing them's not a problem, but photographing them on wriggly children is a whole different story!