Friday, 30 December 2016

Exotic packaging: Emma Bridgewater Shellfish Plates

Despite not eating shellfish I do think prawns and crabs and lobsters and things can be very beautiful. So I bought this 2 pack of pretty plates from Emma Bridgewater. One (the crab) is part of my world renowned Wall of Plates. Or you might really style it a kitchen of plates. The second I gave as a present.

Now that I have posted this beautiful packaging I can put into into the present box I keep stashed under my bed, and give it away next time I have a suitably shaped present. Not as a present! That would be mean.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

A Little Bit of Chocolate Does You Good: M&S Storm Trooper Foiled Milk Chocolates with a Caramel Centre

Ever thoughtful with their product descriptions Mark & Spencer have produced a very tasty chocolate covered caramel sweet. Covered in a a piece of foil printed with a Storm Trooper. Nice. But don't look at these Storm Trooper chocolates upsidedown because you get q creepy smile!
I thought this was a BB8 themed sweetie but as you see - no. However, these little caramels do come in a BB8 shaped tin so you can see why I made that mistake.

Sunday, 25 December 2016

A Little Bit of Chocolate Does You Good: Bad Brownies

The reluctant taste testers were given a box of brownies. Not strictly chocolate, but chocolatey and yummy. They come in all sorts of amazing flavours and are well worth a try if you are within reach of a shop or their delivery.

Take a look at their website.

Delicious. Merry Christmas chocolate fans.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Exotic Packaging: bread wrapper

This was the fancy paper used by our favourite Reims bakery last Christmas.
Isn't it fun?
Merry Christmas 2016

Saturday, 10 December 2016

A Little Bit of Chocolate Does You Good: Cadburys Dairy Milk Buttons

Who can resist a chocolate button? This tiny packet has been sitting around on the desk for so long it's got rather dusty. There can't have been more than 10 buttons, but it's ages since I ate them.
10 isn't really enough is it?

Sunday, 4 December 2016

I Really Love My Christmas Tree

No Christmas tree is complete without a London bus!
It's hard to photograph your Christmas tree. By night, even with a really good camera I struggle to get a good picture because the only lighting is fairy lights (or as they are now mysteriously named "string lights"). And by day, even at midday, the sun is so low in the sky, the light so slanting, that I didn't get much better results.
Platypus ornament from David Jones in Sydney.
The tree.

Emma Bridgewater jug.

Swan ornament from Fortnum & Mason.

In the background there's a clear glass bauble with a reindeer which came from Rome, a present from a friend who now lives in Sydney.

Cuddly zebra ornament from John Lewis.

Where did I get this glass bauble? Can't remember. Possibly Paperchase.

I think this oak leaf and acorns ornament is National Trust, but I'm not sure.

A ceramic buffalo ornament from Buffalo NY.
The green shoe on the left came from the V&A.
Oh look! a stormtrooper below a glass pine cone and a bauble from Venice.
I can't remember where this chunky blue glass star came from.
I remember this silver tinsel and red flower ornament from when I was 5 years old. 
A handsome Wedgwood bauble (get yours in the January sales like I do) and behind it, a home made bauble crafted from a Banksia seedpod. I picked this from a Banksia bush near a bus stop in Coojee, a suburb of Sydney.
You can see the midday sun streaming in and lighting another of the Wedgwood baubles.
This brass Loon (or Diver) came from a shop in Clapham in the 1980s, and everyone needs a Black Cab.

This British Museum ornament was a present.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

A Little Autumn Colour 2016 (2)

This tall Lime is in a front garden
My neighbour's Japanese Maple
A big street Maple on a windy but very sunny morning
Even this huge Oak has nice autumn colours this year
Ash trees don't usually have such good autumn colour round here

Another lovely morning shows up this Cherry tree's autumn colour
Red Oak

Now that we have reached December and winter London is in the grip of heavy frost. It seems strange to think how mild the weather was only the other day.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Exotic Packaging: Bronnley Country Herb Soap Thyme

I don't remember this soap box from my mother's collection. It's a bit "ordinary" for her taste. I'm sure though that this would have been good soap; Bronnley have been making soap for years, and still do.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Exotic Packaging: Crabtree & Evelyn English Country Soap Wild Thyme

I'm quite surprised I still have this little cotton bag in my mother's collection of soap packaging. Which is to say that it's a surprise I never chopped it up for my patchwork projects.

As recommended by the Gentry for the cleansing of FINE & DELICATE skins says the bag. It's rather fun don't you think?

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

I Really Love: this Peruvian Connection Catalogue 2016

I love this 40th anniversary catalogue from Peruvian Connection. This company has been going since 1976 and to celebrate it seems they are reissuing some of their most popular designs.

What a great image of a Peruvian knitter. I am full of admiration for the knitter; her hands look so relaxed. I tend to grip my knitting needles a bit too tightly which is a bad habit. And the colours shown here are lovely. This is the back of the knitting and even that looks wonderful.
And this image of alpacas is great too. Why do alpacas look so much friendlier than llamas I wonder? I have never met an example of either but many years ago I was a school with a girl from Peru and she had had some fairly unsettling encounters with llamas. So maybe her stories have put me off. Or maybe it's the jolly ear tufts the alpacas wear. Who can say?

I have invested in an alpaca cardi from the anniversary collection. I don't buy a lot from Peruvian Connection but sometimes you just can't resist. But I have several scarves. In recent years I have been wearing scarves a lot more than I used to and I do like the corkscrew style of scarf they sell. 

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Old Wives' Tales: If the Oak Be Out Before the Ash...

Many years ago when I was very young my granny (my father's mother) used to repeat this rhyme when she drove my brother and me around Dorset. That was before she lost her licence knocking someone down on a pedestrian crossing. And we didn't go driving any more.

If the Oak be out before the Ash 
Then we shall have a splash
If the Ash be out before the Oak
Then we shall have a soak.

This must have been 50 years ago but I remember so clearly Granny saying this rhyme that I can only conclude she repeated it quite often. Unfortunately Granny never asked if my brother and I knew what an Ash or an Oak looked like. 

I knew what an Oak tree looked like. Of course I did. There was a line of Oaks at the bottom of my other grandparents' (my mother's parents) garden, along the boundary ditch. With a noisy rookery on the left hand side of the garden. On the other side of the ditch was a field (later a golf course) with more Oaks in the distance.

The English Oak is a very common tree in England even if you don't live in the middle of the New Forest - which Granny & Grandpa did. And then when I was 7 we moved to London, but by chance we lived just across the road from an Oak wood. So I know about Oaks.

But I had no clue what an Ash tree looked like. And for some reason Granny never bothered to point one out.

Anyway, now I know. And it turns out that Ash trees are very common too. You get them all over the place.
Ash leaves October 2016
October is not perhaps the ideal time to photograph an Ash. The leaves have lost their springtime freshness and got a bit old. But you can see that the leaves are pinnate - like a feather. And the seeds  are bunches of dangling fruits. Somehow I didn't have any closeups to show you so I took these photographs this week.
Ash leaves and fruits
The thing is, that almost every year the leaves on the Ash trees will appear well before the Oak leaves. Oaks tend to be very late. So almost every year you could say that the Ash will be out before the Oak and we will have a soak.

Which I guess is shorthand for a wet British summer. Pretty much the norm.
Ash tree in Gloucestershire summer 2016
And most years that I have noticed, yes, the Ash flowers and leaves have come out well before the Oak leaves and flowers. And most years, yes, there has been a fairly wet summer. At least in this part of England. 

However, this spring I happened to notice that the Oak leaves opened well before the Ash leaves. I have no idea why this happened, but I made a mental note because it was so unusual. And I watched the weather.

We had a cool wet spring and early summer and I was thinking, well, that rhyme must be nonsense after all. And then suddenly we had a long hot dry summer. In fact, the weather has been dryer and warmer, at least in this part of the country, than usual. Almost into November the weather was still warmer and dryer than we would normally expect.

So could it be that this rhyme is correct: the Oak came out before the Ash this year and we had a splash not a soak. It worked in 2016.
Oak leaves October 2016
I wonder will it work again next year? There's a lot of more scientific reading out there including these thoughts from Gabriel Hemery. Could it be something to do with climate change? I wouldn't be at all surprised; almost everything is these days.
Ash flowers
Young Oak trees in Derbyshire 2016

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Exotic Packaging: Crabtree & Evelyn Sweet Fennel & Water Mint Soufflé

I remember this cream. It smelled wonderful!

I bought it back in the 1970s when I had such greasy skin (now styled oily because perhaps it sounds better - or less ghastly) that I really didn't need a moisturiser. I used to open the pot and just sniff the fabulous smell of this wonderfully light cream.

I'd like to say though, that having horribly greasy skin all those years ago was not such a bad thing in the long run. I don't have so many lines and wrinkles as I might have, and (according to my friends) look younger than I ought to for my age. Which is great.

It's a shame then, that nobody pointed out this important fact when I was in my teens. I could have done with that advice. It would have helped a lot.

So if by chance you are reading this aged about 17 and your skin is horribly oily - don't despair. Because when you get to my age you will look wonderfully youthful while your friends who currently have nice dry skin will look all crumbly and ancient: unless they spend a fortune on fancy skin creams and remember to use them every day. Don't forget your sunscreen though.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Exotic Packaging: National Trust Evening Primrose

Another evening primrose product; this time a soap. I don't have a date for this soap but perhaps it was produced around the same time as the Boots Original Formula creams.

Not sure why the design includes a moth but it's pretty don't you think?