"Pure style is my way of life... a blueprint for living in the 21st Century"
Pure Style returns
18 August 2014
Sorry for the silence but I have been pushing on with my new book and have a deadline for end of September! Yes that`s me out there with camera slung round my neck,. sun hat, glasses (can`t focus through view finder without) ruck sack , notebook, tomato bun . We`ve been all over the place my camera and me , and next week we`re at home in London where I`m painting and shooting more gorgeous colour inspiration. I am moored to the keyboard, but food breaks are not neglected- the only demand is that ideas are simple and easy to prepare.
Peach puree is a favourite: Peel 5 or six large peaches, stone and slice and put in a saucepan with enough water to cover. Add two or three tablespoons of sugar and juice of half a lemon. Simmer for 5 to 10m minutes. Cool, blend and refrigerate until use. Decorate with a scented geranium leaf, or not if you don`t have, and pour over ice cream for a delectable summer pudding.
Have just said good bye to beach style for the season.... home to grey London skies I suspect.
Head down and chasing ideas and making pictures for my new book about
colour. We have a publisher , hooray, and it will be on the shelves next
spring. In between, sensual respite for a few days in Olhao. Soaking up
the sun and splashing in first swim of the year sea . So cool and
invigorating and then to eat and feast on fish. Vegetables
come home in Olhao where the market is spilling over with plump tomatoes
and greens. A plate of roast tomatoes, onions, peppers and courgettes
is my offering for supper with friends.
It is `quinta-feira da espiga` (ear of wheat Thursday or Ascension day) and there are bundles of olive, wheat ,poppies, and daisies piled outside the corner shop. It is is good to see the survival of simple country rituals.
Same but different: the beach at Camber sands the day after friends daughter`s 21st. England is as beautiful as any Algarve coastal retreat. But, and this is a big one I`m not enthused about murky English channel shallows.
View from my room, below. I am booked on late rooms.com at Pontin`s `holiday park` fulfilling a childhood curiosity of what`s behind the wire of a holiday camp. It`s housing estate on sea: slot machines, chips, flimsy walls, and family bbqs. Could offer more quality for the price. And don`t punish your guests Mr Pontins: clean the windows, shoot the seagulls and put in bedside lights.
Sunday morning Long island style at Camber sands, below.
Travelling mentally to more watery paradise with Clare Lloyd`s My Greek Island Home. Australian artist, designer and photographer, Claire left the stresses of city life in London to set up home in a small village on Lesbos. The book is a visual feast in which Claire eloquently describes the simple pleasures of reconnecting with nature and community. I love the feline details.
To Colefax and Fowler on a fabric hunt and to see the new collection. I want to order the linen stripes by the hundred metre rollful but am content with a sweet carrier bag lined with `Bowood` my favourite Colefax print
There`s no place like home and my back garden on a hot day in June.
When the garden is looking as heavenly as it is at the moment I have no huge need to spread my wings in search of new excitement. ( Although I would rather like to go dancing....... ) This week it is our clever lodger Jeffrey`s birthday and there is cake for tea and all the gorgeous purples and greens of early summer to mark the occasion.
Lucky to have the last fading tulip petals (they`re edible!) to decorate a chocolate Victoria sponge using the recipe from my cookbook, and to enjoy it against a garden canvas of alliums and lime green lavender and lemon balm leaves: one of my favourite colour pairings.
See how a purple/green combination works in printed floral cotton: a remnant used to patch one of my chidren`s jeans pocket.
Spring nettle soup, home made granola, blazing fires, chairs to fall back and doze in and gorgeous beds make Ett Hem in Stockholm a luxurious home from home. I am hooked after spending the weekend in this intimate 12 bedroom hotel designed by Ilse Crawford.
Elegant and understated Ett Hem is a carefully curated mix of modern, vintage and bespoke pieces with a Scandinavian feel. I especially like the rustic pottery tableware , above, by Birgitta Watz whose studio is in the city.
One evening after dinner in the conservatory, we wrap up in blankets to sit by the brazier in Ett Hem`s walled garden decorated with twinkling strings of lights, tulips and daffodils. Perfect!
More design inspiration at Svenskt Tenn where I tip toe through Josef frank`s tulip prints.
Rugs the colour of Swedish summer berries and woods by Mart Maas-Fjetterstrom, see below, in the window of a small shop not far from
Ostermalms food hall.
Twentieth century furniture, glass, see below, ceramics and jewellery at Modernity
We don`t make it out to
one of the islands of the archipelago but we do run around the
shimmering canal by the royal park , joining mothers jogging with
strollers and longlimbed Vikings in lycra
The organic garden at
Rosendals is heavenly. The orchard of native apple trees is bursting into leaf, a reminder of how far north we are. I like the pick your-own-tulips, the scented Joseph Frank-like border planting, and delicious biscuits at the cafe.
Stockholm foodie highlights: classic herring plates and crayfish toasts at Lisa Elmquist in Ostermalms food hall
and the snug
Hip Pocket ( check out the simple patterned blue tiles ). We are also elegantly barside at Mathias Dahlgren another Ilse Crawford project, where we feast on modern arrangements of tartare of fallow deer and salted whitefish roe ; grilled Swedish quid and cucumber, and fried white asparagus and black morels. Delicious.
I recommend Skansen outdoor museum, with Swedish houses from every period, see 18C summerhouse below. Disarming to be greeted at the door of the 1930`s house by a woman with shingled hair boiling very smelly potatoes on the stove and bemoaning the price of servants. Living history.
Can`t believe how many kms we`ve covered- at last 15k according to the distance app. Stockholm is a brilliant city for discovering on foot. I`m not sure whether the experience would be so comfortable in winter. We have a taste of it with flurries of snow at Skogskyrkogarden woodland cemetery. The layout is stunning and contemplative: towering pine trees, grass and simple headstones . See one of the chapels below.
Up with the lark. 4.30am actually. Ring at the door bell. Dog barks loudly and wakes me from dream where a shoot is submerging the house in folds of paper. Stagger downstairs and peer through the knobbly glass door panel. Vague outline of man in motorbike helmet. Panic. It`s a smash and grab raid? "Who is it ?". ``Pizza". "Pizza, pizza who? " I say. "It`s paid for " he says, and hands over a box from a thermal bag. " "
It`s 4.30, I didn`t order this, and it`s stone cold" I say, and stagger upstairs. Someone has messed up at pizza HQ.
Wish the `instant` of nocturnal fast food delivery , could be applied to building work. One thing leading to another is what building is all about. The attic bathroom project would have been done and dusted but for this week`s discovery of a wasps` nest, parts missing, and paint colour mixed with the wrong base. Plus the soggy fallout from the unfortunate incident in the downstairs bathroom when X and X removed the lavatory as part of the panelling job, and flooded the ceiling below. `You`ll have to get in your plumber` they try. Hmmmm. "You did say X and X were competent at removing bathroom fittings" I remind the contractor. And on, and on it goes.
Oh well. There`s always the garden. My touchstone of sanity. Spring is at least a month earlier than last year and we are soaking up the scents of bluebells and frothy blossom like parched drinkers. Best job of the week has been raking bag of grave in the relining of the pathways between the parterre beds. They look refreshed, almost like clean linen.
Unsurprisingly, I`m longing for the weekend. I think that spring lamb will be on the menu for our Easter feast. This recipe with roasted artichokes and spring greens is from my book .
Spring is springing and the first tulips are blasting colour in the garden. The snail and slugs are in retreat and all is well.
Party of the year in Battersea Park for Bertie`s sweet 16 walk and birthday tea.
Everyone was there. Regrets were sent from Khan who was sad because the vet said he must rest his leg. He sent love. The weather was perfect. There was much frolicking and ball playing. For the most part the guests behaved impeccably, apart from Rosie who slurped melting ice from the champagne bucket and Lola the black pug who ate too much birthday cake and delivered it back on the rug. The party boy managed to stay the course and tottered home happily across the grass as the sun dipped beneath the great chimneys of Battersea Power Station .
Much to be inspired by in the coming season of blossom and light evenings. I have my eyes on Gallery Libby sellers for eye provoking design in a curated environment; Ben and Winifred Nicholson`s very domestic take on early 20C art and life at Kettles Yard ; creamy Welsh goats` cheese logs from Mootown sold at Sunday market in Herne Hill; and my first bath in the new attic bathroom which will be opened for shoots as soon as the last lick of paint has dried.
Here are pictures of the latest blasts of colour in my garden, shot this morning soon after the fairy mist had lifted and the sun had broken through.
This is a brief Pure Style update as much sorting and clearing for new bathroom in the attic. And I`ve been weed bashing outside for many a happy hour in the soft bird twittering spring air.
Colour combination of the week is a bedside gorgeous pink rose left over from shoot in a turquoise coffee cup.
And look, more fabulous pink in a floaty wrap around dream skirt made for me from birthday present fabric by Tessa Brown.
Daughter, Georgie is taking over the kitchen in a very pleasing way with delicacies like this Paul Young sea salt chocolate and pecan tart. A comforting slice or two much needed after car break down on the M3 and subsequent lightening of purse .
There`s fun in a
workout with fork and spade in the fresh air . As good as
a punch bag (it has been one of those weeks) .Happily ,weeds growing super fast in the warmth, and infesting
snails are at the receiving end of my energies.
I dig and thoughts come, like how there is sanity in the unpredictability
of nature. Give me this
violet (above) pinging with unseasonal colour and
vigour over a mush diet of commercial uniformity. Bring on the super green alliums bursting
with early green shoots and, over there , a
radical forget met not, glowing with delicate cobalt blue flowers And even though I canít tame nature I can attempt to work
The hazel hurdles are
up. Easy to mount the stakes in the boggy soil and they should make a good backdrop for
garden shoots this spring. Iíve
recycled the worn out willows ones and put them in the vegetable patch (see
below). Theyíll look good with sweet
peas curling up in summer.
I am planning a new shoot bathroom in the attic and to line the downstairs bathroom in tongue
and groove mdf cladding. Iíve my eye on
a cast iron bath with feet for the top room and Pigeon dark grey to give it warmth and
contrast to my mostly white house.
On the fabric side of
things, I have recently seen luscious colours in sleek contract textures
designed by fashion designer Raf Simons for Kvadrat . And there are interesting retro prints in Heals` first fabric collection since the seventies`.
I seem to need more
raw food at this time of year, something to do with winter depleting our
bodiesí stocks of nutrients maybe, or simply a desire for crunch and colour.
Here Ďs a simple winter salad, from my recipe book that you might like to put
2 or three carrots,
peeled and sliced into thin sticks.
200g red cabbage
1 head of chicory
handful of pomegranate
handful of chopped
few mints leaves, to
garnish ( my local Turkish shop has a steady supply all through the year)
for the dressing
1 tbsp olive oil
2tbsp Seville orange
juice or lemon juice
1garlic clove finely
salt and freshly
ground black pepper
vegetables, pomegranate seeds and nuts in a bowl. In another small bowl, whisk
the olive oil and orange or lemon juice until amalgamated. Add the garlic and
season. Add the dressing to the salad, mix and garnish with mint.
I am still married to my rubber boots even though the sun is spilling through the windows on a rare dry break in the deluge.
Cat and dog laid out in the warming rays as they spread across the newly made bed and decorate it with the finest of cat and dog fur.
After my rant last week, I must say that the upsides of shoots outweigh the occasional down moments. This week we feasted on leftovers: coffee and walnut cake.etc., made by a young, and starting out cook Charlotte Gardelis, who expertly fed and watered the team in the main shoot space.
Munching the last slice of cake and reading Vogue, I see that my investment in a lightweight mint coloured puffa from Uniclo has been given the fashion bible`s stamp of approval, too. I`m not a puffa person but this is a great colour to go with my pink bits and is really warm which is what really counts.
Dodged the showers and tube strike to see Beckett`s Happy Days at the Young Vic. It wasn`t the most uplifting play to go to with a young person at the start of life and full of fluttery hopes, but Juliet Stephenson `s Winnie showed the female capacity for looking on the bright side when it isn`t ,and she has great hand movements.
Happier days, are spent fielding packets of lovely fabric samples, that drop through the letter box for the new book I`m working on. My heart sings when I come across colours in embroidery like this from Pierre Frey , above. Must tell you too that I`m pleased my borders are part of the collection curated by Silvanna de Soissons in her new foodie bugle online shop.
Days getting a little longer... the garden is beginning to beckon for spring. I am looking forward to replacing worn out and wind damaged willow fences at the bottom of the garden with 3 freshly woven hazel ones that arrived by courier yesterday.
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.
The cat and dog look at me hard as I shut the door to the kitchen. I read their stares as `what is she doing, denying us access to FOOD ? ` But I don`t want them decorating the freshly painted white floor which is wet and drying slowly slowly because it is oil based . The long drying time is worth it because the result is hard wearing, like enamel. And this is good for repelling the assault by the heavy boot wearers and furniture draggers of the shoot world. The chalk-on-blackboard screech as a bed or sofa is grated across the boards propels me out of my hidey office hole like nothing else. Thankfully most people are brilliant and careful when they come to use the house.
It`s as if I`ve gone on holiday to a fresh new space . I`m inspired to invest in a a new steam cleaner to keep it looking that way. Quite sceptical about housey gadgets but this is rather wonderful like a steam iron-with-pad on astick. The thing works well if I apply a firm pressure - in the manner of mowing the lawn. Rather meditative, too, as no interruptions for rinsing like you have to do with a traditional mop and bucket.
PS Cat and dog food bowls relocated so they don`t go hungry.
I also update the central island units with a coat of water based `diamond` eggshell, which does do what it says on the tin but obviously wouldn`t be up to something like a floor painting job.
Number one unreliable gadget, the car won`t start. Into garage and the blissful engine hands of Panos. Bicycle main form of transport and so I wobble off with dog on lead tied to handlebars. I am multitasking:dog gets walk in park and I can get to the market to load up with birthday party ingredients for son turning 25.
As ever, Herne Hill Market is a treasure trove of edible delights : rock oysters from Poole in Dorset and leafy greens to start with. Bicycle basket filling up , but I can`t resist retro jug above, and green retro Pyrex glass below. Makes up for the vintage olive oil jugs I backed out of at Fuseta market the other week. The last stop turns out to be the west country cheese man, whose extra mature cheddar is mouthwatering. I feel the dog tugging and sniffing , trying to get under the stall. Bike , dog and me, almost a heap on ground, when west country cheese man shouts,` `Oi its got my lunch` and bends down to retrieve a half finished carton of curry. Wishing I wasn`t there, I offer replacement and buy an extra slice of goats` cheese . Time to leave.
Incident free on the ride home. I bake a birthday cake involving much chocolate and caramel sauce. The canine, not chastened of course , lurks by my feet waiting for a tasty crumb to drop. .... I have to admire her dogged persistence.
I`m warding off the incursion of the 5:2 diet in our household with a hearty steamed pudding from Pure Style Recipes for Everyday.
You, blog readers will enjoy it too, if you`re faint from more New Year diet nonsense.
Marmalade steamed pudding
(makes 4 small puddings)
This is a delicous combination of the bitter flavour of the orange and the sweetness of the sponge. Substitute the marmalade with golden syrup for an even stickier and sweet comfort pudding.
Inn a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar. Add the beaten eggs. Fold in the flour. Grease 4 individual pudding moulds and put a tablespoon of marmalade at the bottom of each.
Add the mixture and cover with greaseproof paper lids tied with string, or a piece of foil fitted tightly. Stand in 2.5cm of water in a roasting tin and place in an oven preheated to 180C for 50 minutes , until risen. Turn out the puddings into serving bowls.
Heat the remaining marmalade in a pan, pour a tablespoonful over the top of each pudding and serve.
Today I will squeeze into trainers and have a quick jog to the seafront and back. New year, new promises and fabulous colour in Christmas earrings and new green cotton t shirt. Small splashes of colour can be as dramatic as an all out colour assault whether it`s in the wardrobe or for decorating a room.
A trip along the coast. Down cobbled steps fringed by tumbling purple convovulus and cactus plants with paddle shaped limbs green succulent, and deadly spiked. Eating springy bread buns with hunks of sweet tomato and goats`s cheese on the grey wind and rain spattered beach is more Bognor regis than the Eastern Algarve, but we are also feeling the whirling effects of the UK`s fierce winter storm.
I am glad to be off major cooking duties for a few days. But it was hugely satsifying over Christmas to produce Elizabeth David`s, Carbonade Nimoise and La Daube de Boeuf Provencale from French Provinical Cooking. Both essentially hearty stews cooked long and slow, the former involves lamb and potatoes with a typical southern taste and smell , and the latter beef with more rich southern juices flavoured with orange peel and herbs .
At the Saturday market there are mounds of cabbages and greens - rich in winter nutrients and fibre for little more than a few centimos. Wish I could carry back furry quinces for membrillo, but would be at expense of reading matter . No I don`t have a Kindle, but maybe I should for the
Sunday, and it`s Fuzeta fleamarket. No I don`t want a bucket of golf balls or a bobbled polyester dressing gown, but I do have my eye on a couple of retro aluminium jugs for olive oil. Five euros each. Not bad I think, but do I really need them? But do we really need most of the stuff we have. Buy them, says the daughter and dedicated shopper of her generation in my head I go back and have a another shifty look. No. I`ll save my money. In the car on the way home. Regret. I should have bought them. So useful and such great shapes.
Anyone for a hammer?
Pots , pans , simple china and utilitarian junk like these mesh filing trays are what make Fuzeta a rich source of pickings on a sunny Sunday morning.
I have escaped the Christmas hysteria for a long weekend in Olhao. Bathed in warm sun the Saturday market is a rich source of edible seasonal goodies. I can only look and sigh at the honey- it wouldn`t make it past the xray scanner but I load up on piri piri peppers, nuts and figs for simple stocking fillers.
Two small girls are selling chestnuts with their brothers from a barrow with a basic charcoal oven and a box of sea salt for flavouring. They keep their wares tucked up like dolls in a blanket of sacking. I buy a bag for 2 euros and the nutty burnt flavours evoke the Christmases we spent in the Andalucian sierra.
Over coffee and a
pastel de nata I consider more ideas, some practical, some
fanciful for my Pure Style Christmas wish list:
A scented rambling rose for summer blooms.
A pile of warm wool welsh blankets Cashmere socks
A cataplana for making Portuguese fish and rice stew.
Anything from Labour and Wait, especially a pot mat a stout work apron and a shiny new saucepan;
A substantial linen tablecloth
Something simple in pottery
Just about any Aesop products but especially my favourite moisturiser
A new project like this one
The true version of this
rather than my Ikea rip off
A subscription to visual inspiration at the Royal Academy.
A year`s supply of Bendicks bittermints