Thursday, 26 August 2010

I am going to eat SO much pizza

Off to Italy very, very early tomorrow morning so I will say farewell to you all for now. Enjoy the last few days of August (and the Bank Holiday for those that it applies to) and see you in September...

And once again thank you for all the Italy tips, 3am start aside, I can't wait.

*mobile phone shot above of a trip to the Italian Coffee Company on Goodge Street a couple of weeks ago when the pizza cravings were really getting to us

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Final flush

Dancing Beastie wrote the most wonderful post a couple of days ago, accompanied by beautiful images, about the last few days of summer. It struck a chord with me, my parents' Norfolk garden this last weekend was sunshine-filled and seemed bursting at the seams with produce. We made the most of it, eating outdoors and basing meals largely on stuff harvested from the vegetable patch, but I know that the bowls full of greengages and apple-laden trees signal that the English summer is coming to an end.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


I first read about this animated film, L'Illusionniste (The Illusionist) on Thatch and Burrow (thanks Pamela!), then saw, a week later, that it was coming to one of my local cinemas. We went to see it last night, and I loved it even more than Bellville Rendezvous (aka The Triplets of Belleville) which was also directed by Sylvain Chomet.

White rabbits and top hats, flowers produced from shirt sleeves and empty wine glasses filled. Showgirls and ventriloquists and a trio of acrobats. Battered brown leather suitcases and train journeys North. Rainswept skylines and twinkling theatre lights. Red shoes and fur-trimmed coats. Fish and chips from folded paper, red double-decker buses. Kilts and Highland cattle. Bunches of heather and coal stoked fires. Strings of coloured lights and coins plucked from behind ears.

L'Illusionniste has been adapted from an original screenplay by Jacques Tati and tells the story of an ageing French magician who is finding it increasingly more difficult to find work with the rise in popularity of pop music and cinema in the late 1950s / early 1960s. He eventually moves to Scotland where he befriends a young girl and finds himself having to take on more and more menial jobs in order to maintain the pretence that he can conjure up gifts from thin air.

It is at times amusing, at others beautifully poignant, and after the credits began to roll the three of us sat in silence taking in the sheer time and skill involved in creating such a piece of animation. The drawings are superb, with so much attention to detail that the Highlands of Scotland and the majestic beauty of Edinburgh sprang to life before our eyes.

I am not sure if it is on general release or just in selected Arthouse cinemas, but if you have a chance to see it, do.

All images from here.

Monday, 23 August 2010


Firstly, a massive thank you for all your tips for Italy, it has made me more excited than ever for the upcoming trip, if that is possible. I promise to take lots of photographs of the buildings, the scenery, the ice cream...

I have been in Norfolk this weekend, helping out in the garden and positively gorging myself on all the produce. These peaches all came from a single tree on a south facing wall in my parents' garden and at the moment are my mother's pride and joy. Still can't quite believe it is possible to grow peaches in Norfolk, but here is the evidence.

Friday, 20 August 2010


M and I are off to Tuscany a week today. We are staying in an apartment in Siena but are hoping to make a few day trips to places nearby, Florence, Pisa and other smaller towns. We have decided against hiring a car, but have been told that the train network is pretty good.

Have any of you ever been? Any recommendations of where to visit/eat/buy gelato?

Thursday, 19 August 2010


A trip to Holkham on the Norfolk coast. Sun that broke through the clouds then disappeared again, a strong breeze that meant cardigans stayed on and blankets were tucked over optimistically bare legs. A nest of sarongs and beach towels my sister and I huddled and whispered under. A picnic, sand dusted. For dessert; scones with two types of jam made by H, Sea Salt Fudge Chocolate Brownies made by me. Nautical stripes modelled by S. The beach sculpted by retreating tides. Seaweed and half buried shells. Dunes and pine forest, a walk after lunch. Samphire on tidal marshes, collected in a bucket. Yellow Buddleia in the post-beach pub garden. Coming home, sand in my hair, in my shoes, in my turned up jeans.

Still finding traces of it, days later.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Rainy Day BBQ

Saturday it rained. I ventured out for a quick run before retreating indoors to watch Pretty in Pink and bake Sea Salt Fudge Chocolate Brownies. A friend's annual BBQ was planned for later on, and luckily by the evening the skies had cleared somewhat and we were able to drink Pimms in her garden to the gentle sound of the earlier rain drip-dripping off leaves, the summer air still warm enough for bare arms. There were burgers and relish, huge bowls of avocado, tomato and mozzarella salad, all varieties of Hummingbird Bakery cupcakes (she lives just round the corner) and an epic fruit salad. Though she has spent practically her whole life in England, K is an American, and I think it is safe to say that being able to host a great BBQ must be in her genes or something, because the rain-glossed hydrangeas that dampened my dress as I brushed past, and the snails on the damp pavement outside as we left did not seem to matter, not one little bit.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Abby Powell

Another thing that has made a dull week brighter:

On Monday morning I arrived at work to a small package on my desk containing two prints that I had ordered a couple of weeks back from Abby Powell of abby try again. I have loved Abby's work for a very long time and have spent many a lunchbreak swooning over the images on her blog and flickr pages. I bought a calender of Abby's images last Christmas, but now finally treated myself to a couple of prints, and I am so very glad I did, they are beautiful.

Thank you Abby!

Sure most of you are aware of Abby's blog already, but if not find it here, her big cartel shop here, etsy here, and flickr here.

* the top photo of the flowers still has its cellophane envelope on so looks slightly hazy in comparison to the photo of the chandelier

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Sand Cookies

Things are a little grey here, literally, metaphorically.

I woke to the sound of rain hitting the windowpanes and when I left the left the house, though the rain had stopped, the streets were wet and the sky overcast. M is off on another stint to Japan on Thursday, and though he'll be back before the end of the month, his impending departure for his year long stay there is looming, menacingly, at the end of the summer.

So, a photo of the Gladioli that are currently unfurling on my kitchen table and cheering the room up considerably, and a biscuit recipe that was passed to me some years ago by the lovely Anna. These are so simple to make that I have made two batches in the last few days alone, one to take to visit my Grandmother last Friday who has been unwell, and another on Sunday night just because.

If you use regular sugar rather than caster it will remain grainy as the biscuit bakes, giving them their name of 'Sand Cookies', however I used caster sugar both times (by accident and unthinkingly) and it worked just fine, but the name didn't really apply.

Sand Cookies, from Anna

90g cold, hard butter
125g self raising flour
60g sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt

Preheat oven to 160 degrees C or Gas Mark 3/4

Mix all the ingredients together into a dough. It should be quite soft but not fall apart - if it does then just add a little more butter. Roll out then cut into biscuits. Place on greased baking tray in oven for 10-15 mins or until browning slightly.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Alpine Strawberries, Victoria Sponge

After the lavender, and the bumblebees, gem-like alpine strawberries picked from underneath crinkle edged leaves. Afternoon tea and cake in the garden, many, many photos taken trying to capture the exact scarlet of the berries, the green of the leaves, until Dad started huffing about time wasting and grabbed his slice of cake.

Now it is raining, heavily, with the odd groan of thunder. I am facing the prospect of a journey home in inappropriate shoes, and Sunday afternoon (both the last one and the next) seems a long way away.

Also, a big thank you to Lisa-Marie for the blog award, very sweet of you!