Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Tuesday Intros: Mothering Sunday

I love getting a surprise parcel in the post, especially when it's book-shaped!  I recognised the First Born's handwriting on our address. Good, we enjoy the same sort of reading material.
 
It is a short story, beautifully structured, told with a female voice. Like Graham Swift's other books it is suffused with a sense of loss. I was hooked from the first page.
I started the book and didn't put it down until I got to the end.
Joining Barbara, the hostess of Tuesday Intros.

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Tuesday Intros: The Golden Bowl.

At the weekend the book group met to discuss, 'The Golden Bowl' by Henry James. Whew, what a difficult read! The language was so complex. I had read it before, many years ago, but don't remember finding it so difficult. Perhaps I was used, then, to reading long, Victorian novels whereas now I'm a 21st century reader.
But it was worth the trouble because once I got into the story I was hooked! It made for a great discussion, although, because of the complexity of the writing not everyone managed to finish the book. There are just six main characters, in the form of three couples. The opening sentence introduces us to the handsome Italian prince.
Have you read this book? Did you find it a struggle? What a devious piece of work Charlotte is, not someone I would describe as a friend!  What a lot of questions this story raises.
With thanks to Barbara who hosts Tuesday Intros.
Synchronicity!
Because we had just returned from St Ives a friend lent me this book about Virginia Woolf and her sister, Vanessa Bell, who spent long summers throughout their childhood on the town.
I was surprised to find a photo in the book of Henry James visiting Talland House, the place that the Stevens family rented each summer. (It wasn't comfortable enough for Henry James, however, he stayed at the more luxurious Tregenna castle Hotel.)
Virginia's mother and younger brother with Henry James.

Friday, 28 April 2017

David Ferguson

David Ferguson
Visits to David's home in Cornwall were always happy occasions.
He had taught at the Bristol School of Art with Himself for many years. (The art school is now known as 'the University of the West of England' i.e. 'the University of Woe'!)
David ran the annual Cornish landscape course for the Bristol students with the help of Himself and visiting artists such as Patrick Heron, Brian Wynter, Roger Hilton and Paul Feiler.
He grew to love the area and the people and chose to live there in retirement. We used to visit him in Cornwall on a regular basis.
Sometimes we ate in style in his dining room,  with it's careful display of family china and glass.
His life looked serene and well-ordered.
His work is equally serene, beautifully rendered landscapes and figure studies where the subject matter is pared down to extreme simplicity that actually says a great deal. Very much a case of less is more.
It amuses me that such beautiful work was produced out of the most chaotic studio. Paint everywhere, except perhaps on the ceiling!



I sat for my portrait. David had been a student at the Slade under William Coldstream and I was initially carefully measured with the aid of a pair of callipers. 

The first sittings took place over three days. I listened to the seagulls outside the window and occasionally saw them wheeling in the sky as David worked.
He made several studies at the same time, later rejecting those that he wasn't happy with.
We went home and waited patiently to hear when the portrait would be finished. I returned for further sittings. It took several years! 
But it was worth the wait and quite upsetting to see the finished result because, not only had he captured me but also my mother and grandmother, neither of whom he had known.
Now the 'family face' hangs in our sitting room. David had put up an impressive fight with various forms of cancer during the last years of his life. As it turned out, my portrait was the final commission that he carried out.
We own other examples of his work. This study of Cape Cornwall is more than just a picture of the place, it is also full of stories. David was a great story-teller. He pointed to each building and told their history; the house where 'Elephant Bill'  lived and Duncan Grant's house where Virginia Woolf visited whilst writing 'To the Lighthouse'. (She set the book in Scotland but described the local Cornish flora and fauna to the annoyance of some readers when the book was published.) 
David died on the 8th of April and we traveled to Cornwall to attend his funeral. He was buried in the last plot in the graveyard of the village that he had come to call home. We have lovely things to remember him by but shall miss his company.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

'Home' for Easter.

I left Yorkshire when I went to London as a student and never returned, it's well over half a century since I was a permanent resident there. Even so it's the place that I think of as home. Once my parents' house had been sold the thought of visiting it once more was daunting. It had always been a door that was open, lift the latch, call out, 'I'm here!' and walk straight in. The new owners were happy to show me around, anxious that their alterations didn't upset me. I was delighted to see what sympathetic restoration they were doing to the old house. Everything was fine until it was time to leave, then the familiar sound of the door sneck undid me, the sound that had marked all my comings and goings. I had walked through that doorway on my wedding day.
But, how lucky am I because the door is still always open and the welcome as warm as ever.
Photographing the latch.

Lorraine  has decorated the porch with flowers.

And an Easter branch in the sitting room.

I went upstairs to admire the super new bathroom.

Before my wedding the house was full of relatives and they had used up all the hot water by the time I came to have my bath - the bride-to-be was left to have a cold bath!The bathroom then was very plain with an old cast-iron roll-top, claw foot bath that I loved, green 'marble' lino on the floor and white walls. Some time later on a visit home I discovered to my horror that my father had 'modernised' the bathroom, rearranged the walls, thrown out the lovely old bath and replaced it with a truly hideous canary yellow suite. Now the new owners have happily sent all that yellow to the scrap heap and put a fine roll top back in place. The room looks far grander than ever it did before!
Only the window is familiar.
The bathroom decorations amused me.

Easter involves a bit of chocolate eating and the First Born brought this elegant little box.
All the white chocolates had disappeared before I could get my camera out!
We looked in Betty's window to see what was on offer.


Then it was back to the bolthole to eat cakes for tea
and a Yorkshire tart!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Free the streets

Every first Sunday in the month the town of Frome closes the streets to traffic and holds an artisan market. It has become a great success, so much so that people come from miles around, music plays and the town takes on a party atmosphere. I've noticed that the nature of the stalls has changed somewhat  over the years as the the crowds have become more dense.
It used to be mainly craft, 'vintage' clothing and bric-a-brac but food has now become a big feature of the event and, my, it does look tempting! The bakemonger is one of my favourite stalls. She is a wonderfully creative cake designer. Do take a look at her site, www.thebakemonger.com to see what lovely things she makes.


Quite apart from the goods for sale it's a great place for people watching. This stall holder was busy tying on one of the headscarves that she was selling when I first spotted her.
Socks and a yellow satchel!
And this little girl had obviously chosen her outfit with care.


What did we buy?
I bought these tiny, tinny jelly moulds. from a stall specialising in '50's goods. They were 50p a pop! When I got home and washed them I noticed the stamp on one of the rims. 'With the compliments of the makers of Chiver's jellies.' They had obviously been given away free with every packet of Chivers jelly.
Himself bought a good sized chunk of Cheddar from one of his favourite makers.
We walked back to our car beside the allotments and I had a peek to see what everyone was up to.
Lots of activity and some good raised beds.
Time to get back to my own plot!