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"Pure style is my way of life... a blueprint for living in the 21st Century"
Spring thoughts
30 March 2020

 
 Some good things:  road use is down to 1955 levels  and the  garden powers on in lockdown. The  first raspberry ripple Bicolour flaming flag tulips are blooming and the apple tree is budding- simple pleasures  to alleviate  anxiety and  the  hit by a hammer effect of social distancing and self isolation.  Mad humour to match mad times is a good antidote:  the  vide  boss unintentionally  appearing as a virtual potato  in a  group office meeting on Zoom  the new way to connect whilst we are stuck inside.  I have had my usual pilates class via Zoom and even if we were not together in the flesh it is  connecting to see everyone else,   to get a glimpse of each others sofa arrangements plus a  show and tell of pet dogs, cats and even a lizard. 


31st march

A host of white and golden narcissi under the apple tree.



30th March

 Fresh and varied Vegetable  box delivered from   Smith&Brock   wholesaler who have miraculously reworked their  business  mode in response to the lock down of  events,  hotels  restaurants and bars    and are  now sending out  consumer deliveries.

Vegetable box candy coloured  beetroot and carrots - plenty of time to play around with  art  now .....




 Rescue  soup kitchen in our picnic  thermos and a posy of spring flowers from the garden




A friend with suspected covid now has pneumonia  and so  I make her some pea and mint soup.  I leave it at her doorstop and wave from at least 2 metres away. She reports that it`s fresh and soothing on her throat.  Worrying times.

Pea and mint soup: chop 1 onion, 4 garlic cloves, 2 peeled potatoes, add to a pan with l litre vegetable stock. Bring to boil and simmer for 15 minutes until potato soft. Add handful of chopped fresh mint leaves, 500g frozen frozen peas (petits pois sweeter), juice half lemon, and bring back to simmer for 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Whizz in processor. Can serve with sour cream/creme fraiche/yoghurt.






24th March

Social distancing in Brockwell Park:  a quick charcoal after my run along with everyone else on their once a day exercise, now that we all have stay in.  The sun is streaming, sky is clear and  the streets  are empty. I miss the cold clear lido... Don`t know when we will be swimming again. 



The new gravel  is satisfyingly crunchy and adds  definition to the beds which are growing in profusion. Think the alliums are going to be fabulous this summer . In the  background are my  newly planted box plants...  I am taking a risk because  box blight destroyed the previous hedge but  with all things  in the garden its  worth having another go ..




At least the garden`s ready for lockdown  even if  I`m not. I`m more than lucky to have this space when so many people in London  will have to endure confined conditions.





For those new to my garden here`re  some notes on my  plans for the garden when we moved here in 2003


 FROM MY GARDEN BOOK NOTE BOOK:


Winter is the time to plan and dream. And over the first one at Palace road I read up on  gardens and gardeners, great and small to get me going on the new garden I will dig with the help of Tommy and his gang later in the year. Alexander Pope’s advice to the Earl of Burlington – that the gardener consult the genius of the place could certainly apply to my back garden as much as to the 18 century earl’s sprawling acreage . The genius in this place is its spacious and leafy,suburban proportions. Where to start?



I rough out a basic plan and thoughts in a notebook. I envision the garden as
a series of outdoor spaces: a journey for the senses, a mix of the formal and
informal , with places to sit and eat or contemplate on a blanket under a blue
sky. Three sections emerge: a patio, a central flower and herb plot divided by
gravel paths and planted at the corners with wigwams of beansticks, and the
grass area at the end with the old apple tree and garden room,. The brief :to
keep it simple, functional, and beautiful. Simple in the sense of layout, functional
in not having time consuming plants, and beautiful in terms of texture
colour and sensuality. Possible obstacles to dash my plans: the unvisual prospect
of a trampoline - at the time my children were begging for one.
I also look with increased focus at the cottage gardens and allotments
on which I will base my ideas. The forerunners of sweetly cobbled or
brick paved front gardens brimming with little clumps of the season’s first
snowdrops , near me, and of my own childhood back garden for that matter,
go back to the Middle Ages, and earlier when green fingered monks tended
flowers and herbs in cloister and courtyard gardens. Enclosed by a wattle
fence, hawthorn hedge or stone wall.





23rd March

As the country closes down,  loo roll is like  gold bars  and birdsong takes over from the roar of aircraft,  it`s a race against lockdown  to  ren novate  the gravel paths between the flower and herb beds.  Gavin and and Karl are my right hand  garden team  digging out the existing gravel, now thick with weeds and earth spillover after the most torrential  winter  I have known , and laying down a permeable plastic membrane on which will be spread a thick layer of pea shingle gravel. This should be more weed repelling than previously because the plastic butts up against the earth border of the flower beds.







Tags: spring, garden, tulips, lockdown, covid-19, simple, style, growing, coronavirus, everyday beauty,


June beauty
10 June 2016

9th June 3pm:  the garden basks in afternoon heat and light.  Days like this  in  our hit and miss summers are precious,  as all worthwhile things are. The bees are here again, feasting on the fluffy alliums and there`s a haze of blue nigella magic from a  packet of seeds. Blue and purple, purple and green: summer colour pairs which work so naturally and beautifully.  Framing the left and right borders  lush green and pink, the usual, but never  taken for granted , bowing  and flopping roses are  sweet with soap scent..












Tags: summer, alliums, garden, purple, blue, green, purecolour, simplestyle


Caribbean beauty
03 March 2016

   Since restoring a  broken down Georgian Spitalfields house back in the nineteen eighties` and seeing its simple interior spaces come to life again my heart goes out to every piece of neglected architectural beauty I come across. On a recent trip to Barbados (where I`m having the best of times liming with my long lost Cumberbatch family)  I note the  neglected colonial-style buildings in Bridgetown, the island`s capital, wishing I could scoop up them and put them back together again.  It`s vital to hang onto architectural heritage: one swing of a  wrecking ball and hundreds of years of skill, detail and social history pound to the ground in a blast of dust.  Sometimes the balance tips the wrong way: walking in Spitalfields  last week I feel the quirky beauty which attracted artists and brave creative types  prepared to rescue the  decaying Georgian splendour  has all but been swamped by  eye-watering house prices, burglar alarms,and Costa Coffee chains. It seems merely another tourist destination where the idea of the artist is all that remains.  But at least the houses are preserved.
 
Back in Barbados the profits from swanky golf resorts like Sandy lane are greater than the less profitable  unsung heroes of vernacular style  but The  National Trust of  Barbados  does an enormous amount to protect the island`s heritage and there are many exquisitely preserved structures such as, the Black Rock  Archives    site  of the old leprosy hospital  where I spent a morning under  wooden eaves and cooling fan uncovering my Bajan Grandfather`s  birth and death details.

Would love to have a go at bringing something like the tattered  building below to life again - it has a For Sale sign.








  Built in 1907  The  Empire theatre and cinema - my cousin remembers visits here when she was a child- there are plans to refurbish it




I love the wooden balcony detail



Backstreets of Bridgetown fading beauty- note the simple  Georgian style sash windows.




Wooden  detail is at the mercy of tropical heat and humidity




  On the coast road out of Bridgetown:  thirties` gothic - a perfect setting for a Bajan ghost story with a Colonial twist?




With only the swishing of palm trees, the old  Queen Elizabeth hospital  in Bridgetown is eerie and desolate -  my great grandfather was the first man of  Colour to be Superintendent here. See below:






 The Black Rock Archives , are located in the old leprosy hospital, a collection of  elegant stone buildings.


Tags: Barbados, archtiecture, simplestyle,


Shots of purple
21 May 2014

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.







Tags: purple, lime green, purestylecolour, summer, baking, chocolate, garden


Borders on show
01 October 2013

It`s the time of year for London`s crop of interior design shows.  Last week, much excitement!  our  Toast wallpaper border, see above and below  decorated  the World of Interiors stand at Decorex.




 I manned the House & Garden stand at the same show, during the  eighties` when  chintz prints,  swags and bows and frilly  Austrian blinds were  the life blood of interior decoration.  The  aesthetic  today is so much  more eclectic, everything from modern textures to retro Cabbages and Roses chic.

My  Pure Style eye is caught by  tiles in jewel colours  from Habibi and  Bert&May Hibou wallpapers and fabrics for children have a Cath Kidston flavour, but in a less sugary palette.  David Seyfried supplies  among  the best small  classic sofas that I have seen since  I purchased two from him over twenty years ago. And there are beautiful one-offs from Fine Cell Work Fine Cell Work  a social enterprise that trains prisoners in paid, skilled, creative needlework.
 





Tags: Pure style borders, simple decoration,


Home produce: things I like this week
22 January 2013


 Simple country inspired  chair and geometric  rug from British designer Matthew Hilton`s new collection.





 Sourdough and other good bread for winter toast by The Old Post Office Bakery, from my  local Sunday morning  Brixton Farmers` Market





The New Craftsmen  curates  brilliant craftsmanship from the British Isles. Above, contemporary Orkney chair made by  Dalston based furniture maker Gareth Neal, and traditional Orkney chair maker Kevin Gauld. Below, Gold plated dressmaking scissors from Ernest Wright
Photos by Tif Hunter




Below, Simple cotton prints from Fermoie by the duo behind Farrow & Ball








Yum!  Malden oysters from Essex : a Saturday treat from Whittakers  my local fishmonger,





Ceramic tealights  from   Maud and Mabel  , pint sized Hampstead emporium where 99% of the stock is British





Tags: winter, simple, country style, colour


 
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