Posts Tagged ‘Shopping’

All week I’ve been thinking I must get the spare keys back from Ben, the chimney man. He’s had them since September, when he was supposed to come and finally sort out the leaking chimney. Since then the weather hasn’t been kind and jobs have been delayed, and I had all but given up. So I was delighted to find scaffolding finally up when I got here in the pitch dark last night.

I’m hoping that the work he’s going to do will cure the damp and leaking chimney. If it doesn’t, I’m going to stop throwing good money after bad and give up.

Today ended on a good note, full of slanty rays of sunshine and bright autumn colours, despite several rain showers. So I was able to do some hacking at the garden, during which I discovered that I’ve got my very own spindle tree. I wrote about these a year ago, when I saw them in a neighbour’s field, having never noticed them before. So much depends on looking at the right time.

I ended up doing a more than a bit of hedging and then came in to rest my sore elbow, and have some tea and chestnuts roasted over the fire. This morning, while I was buying some bits and pieces for grooming horses (more about that another time), I came across a roasting pan in the department that suddenly springs up at this time of year full of fireside accoutrements, so this totally unnecessary item just fell into my shopping basket. Apparently, you’re not supposed to put it in the flames, stupid thing.

Chestnuts remind me of when I was a student in Vienna years ago, when I used to buy a paper coneful and eat them on my walk home from the university. They warmed my hands and filled my lonely student stomach so comfortingly.

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Working from home this week, I find I’m massively distracted by the sudden, fine weather. It’s mighty cool in the living room, as the walls of the cottage are 18 inches thick but upstairs it’s warmer under the roof.

There’s weeding to do and sawing up all the wood that I’ve been collecting over the winter for kindling. The garage is full of it. My saw is blunt, or may be I just can’t saw, either way – I’ve been making heavy weather of it.

In the house, I find there are other distractions like my new bag (bought in February at Palmgrens in Stockholm but not yet used), which I have to play with until I know it well enough to ignore it; endlessly repositioning things within it for optimum ease of use. Ridiculous. I’ll get the hang of it soon enough. But I’m delighted that it’s finally warm enough to use something that says ‘summer’ quite clearly. Let’s hope the weather can hear.

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I have a serious question to ask. I used to make pottery but it all ground to a halt when I’d made everyone all the presents they could cope with, and my own house was stuffed to the gills with homemade vessels of all kinds.

What I’m wondering is, if I sold these mugs, which are my own design, from here – do you think people would buy them?


They are both made from a white earthenware clay. The brown mug has a semi-matt glaze with a partly unglazed design. The blue mug is the natural colour of the clay, painted with a blue slip stripe and then transparent glazed. The handles are deliberately oversized (I’d be interested what people think of that too.)

Have a lovely weekend!

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When I was writing my round-up of 2011, I noticed that most of the product reviews that I’d done were concentrated in January. It must be my reaction to the dreary greyness of winter days. Oddly enough, I came across something lovely via another blogger today.

These rather lovely note cards are from Rifle Paper Company, who make all manner of gorgeous illustrated stationery, as well as bespoke invitations and note cards.

They’re based in the US but are happy to take international orders. It’s certainly worth having a look if you like stationery and they have a very nice range of prints, mainly for kids, as well.

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I love it when I hear about a website that really epitomises the kind of style I love, whose stock isn’t totally obvious. For example, I love Marimekko designs but they’re just a bit… obvious. Lots of people have items made of their materials, and they’ve been round since the seventies, so they’re not in any way unique, although it’s nice to see them come back into fashion. And, frankly, I can’t imagine living with them for long – they’re a bit too bold for me.

These days it’s very hard to be unique  – you can buy the same products, or virtually the same, all over the world at places like Ikea. These items are also disposable, which I hate. Don’t get me wrong, I have had plenty of things from Ikea but in areas where I knew they won’t be needed for very long, like the children’s bedrooms and, before people start shouting, I’m happy to say that that Ikea can’t be surpassed for kitchen units and accessories. But it’s boring. Just boring to have too much of it.

I not keen on things that are totally faux either, like newly made country style pine furniture. It’s a bit… hmm, how to put it… lacking in creativity and…er, obvious, especially in the country. I’ve always aspired to a look that isn’t either totally modern or totally full of antiques. I want it to have some character and to be a bit quirky. It’s much harder to gather objects and furnishings together from a variety of sources, styles and eras and make them work together, but so much more interesting and fun to do. It can mean waiting for a very long time until the right thing comes along, but it’s always worth it.

With this in mind, I was happy to read in The Guardian about New House Textiles and to find this tray (something I’ve been needing at the cottage for a while) on their website. Actually, it was just a reader’s letter, not even a feature.

It will go well with the simplicity of the cottage’s interior and picks up countryside themes appropriately. It’s a lovely clear, clean design, which is something I always like, and it features a nice orange as well as more muted colours, tying together the bright colours of my kitchen with the more muted colours of the living room very nicely.

New House Textiles also have a blog. See my current favourite blog over there on the right.

Have a nice weekend!

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I’ve finally got around to ordering the curtains that I wrote about almost nine months ago. I’ve gone for this:

which will look very nice – actually a lot bluer and brighter than the picture makes it appear – with the other things in the living room. But now the fabric is out of stock. As it comes from France, where they’re on holiday for the whole of August, it will be ages until they are made and finally arrive. Typical. Now that I’ve made up my mind, I want them immediately! I’ve ordered them from Tinsmiths in Herefordshire, which is a wonderful source of beautiful household objects and natural fabrics.

While I’m on the subject of opportunities for financial leakage, I came across Cox and Cox this week, who have a nice range of gift wrapping materials, amongst other things. Thanks to a certain London department store, I have already been reminded that Christmas is just around the corner (doesn’t life feel it’s passing quickly enough, as it is? Really!), so this discovery is quite appropriate. I love having wrapping paper that stands out from the crowd and this rather Scandinavian design, which also evokes the herds of red deer close to Spring Cottage, is making my ‘order now’ finger itch.

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Well, I’m not off to Sweden just yet. So, today I’m going to take you to Bishop’s Lydeard, which is a few miles away. It was the day of the village fete and flower show; so, despite a lowering sky, I went off to have a look.

bunting blowing in the wind

Coming only two weeks after the school fair, it felt a bit flat. Perhaps Bishop’s Lydeard needed a bit of a rest from fairs and fetes. Or perhaps it was the weather, which threatened rain all afternoon. But I felt a bit sorry for the people who had planned the events and were gamely manning the stalls in the brisk wind. However, and there’s always a ‘however’, I still managed to buy two secondhand books and two verbena seedlings, all for the princely sum of £2. So, I went home happy and I suspect many others did, too.

thatched house

Bishop’s Lydeard, built mainly of local red limestone, with a few beautiful thatched buildings and an old mill, is the home of an excellent Co-Op (our closest shop), three pubs (two of which are for sale), a corner shop (recently closed), a garage, an ironmongers, a fantastic butcher’s, a bistro (defunct), a couple of newsagents, a primary school, a marvellous church and a library (threatened with closure). In other words, it is just the same as any other high street – struggling to keep its identity and services, as the forces of out-of-town shopping draw the locals away with the lure of more.

thatched house and cottage garden

Bishop’s Lydeard is quite a big village, big enough to sustain a primary school obviously, but two failing pubs? All three pubs are well-established, so must have been around since before the population grew to the size it is today.

pool table in a pub

Yet, now that the village is bigger than ever, they are closing. We know from NHS statistics that people aren’t drinking less, particularly women; supermarkets, with their cheap alcohol, are being blamed, as people are stay at home to drink. Which is sad, as pub closures isolate sections of the community into the little boxes that they call their homes and that can’t be good thing. Any more than the library and shop closures are.

modern housing

I just wonder where it will all end and whether there is a way back. Maybe when we run out of fuel for transport and services, and facilities have to become local again.

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