The family have been and gone and we are still eating the remains of all the Christmas feasting - thank goodness my Dries van Noten pinafore dress doesn't have a waistband! I'm wearing it with a new white blouse from Boden, a present from Father Christmas.
It has a pin-tucked bib and a neat, shaped cut that is easy to wear.
I'm utterly slobbed out today in footless tights and old ballet flats.
I like the combination of black and white and have quite a number of white shirts. This one, taken on holiday and rather creased, has a nifty detachable placket.
Just in case you feel that you didn't get your fair share of chocolate this Christmas here is a recipe to rectify matters. It's from Delia Smith's Christmas book and is very easy to make and very well-behaved.
The good thing is that apart from the cream the ingredients are all store cupboard items.
Crush the Amaretti biscuits in a polythene bag
while the chocolate, liquid glucose and rum is melting. (I used 81% Arriba Superieur chocolate from Lidl.)
Once you've folded in the whipped cream all the work is done!
The recipe says that it serves ten people. Eight of us attacked the torte at lunch on Friday and only managed to eat half of it. It's VERY rich - what size are your portions, Delia?!
It's a good recipe for a NewYear's Eve party - the dieting can start on Jan. 1st!
On our last-minute booking at Hotel Endsleigh we were offered a choice of rooms. In the long days of summer I would definitely choose the superb view south looking over the valley with the river below. But at this time of year the shutters get closed at dusk so we opted for a spacious room on the first floor overlooking the bell tower with it's charming chime.
(It doesn't chime through the night!)
The bathroom has a very practical Edwardian look to it,
supplied with everything that you might need.
It's a cosy, small hotel, which makes you feel as though you are staying in a friend's country house. We were between seasons, the fishing finished, the shooting only just getting under way. The hotel was quiet - good, exactly what we like. For the coming weekend a shooting party would fill the place, but we were a select few and the other occupants were excellent, and fascinating company. (Famous author, writing next book, and a couple from the Foreign Office full of humour and stories!)
Wore my new Italian dress to dinner with it's matching jumper.
Dinner was good!
I chose the venison. (Getting my own back for the deer that did so much damage to our car last year.)
Pistachio parfait to finish - what's not to like!
Afterwards we sat by the log fire with our coffee and chatted to the author. My idea of a perfect evening.
I took a few more photos next morning. They don't do justice to this lovely wallpaper, which is around a hundred and fifty years old.
I'm well wrapped up, having just come in from a frosty morning walk.
Lovely little inlaid mosaic angels in the table tops
and charming arrangements everywhere.
The house style is to arrange artwork in blocks, which is very effective.
After so much nosing about, time to sit down to the full English!
I've been searching for a while for a decent on-waist belt and surprised at just how difficult it was to find exactly what I wanted. If the width was right then the colour was wrong, if the leather was good then the buckle was cheap. I was having a Christmas present hunt for other people when I spotted this grey belt in the Comptoir des Cotonniers window - just the thing!
Italian leather, both belt and buckle. It was not cheap! I console myself with the thought that it is a lifetime purchase and will work well with any number of clothes in my wardrobe. Today I'm wearing it with what is normally an absolute slouch of a pinafore dress in black wool by Dries van Noten. It has a fold over hem thing, (don't know the technical term!)
Worn with a grey cotton blouse from Gap, a black cotton card from Nicole Farhi and Clarke's black suede shoes.
By the way I am being DRIVEN MAD by attempts to grow my hair. How do you get from short to long without a long period of time when you feel as though your head should be inside a large paper bag? Last night I had a bit of a go at the fringe with a pair of scissors. It hasn't helped.
The Sunday newspaper felt heavy. It's the time of year when everyone is trying to part you from your money in the great pre-Christmas spend. Out of the cellophane bag fell a brochure from J. Crew, a name that I'm familiar with only because of frequent mentions from my blogging friends across the pond.
Well, now they've come to London!
It's interesting to see the images chosen to promote the brand; a London taxi, looking rather bling!
Not content with one store in the capital they have opened three. The edited collection for men is in one of my favourite areas, Lamb's Conduit Street.
Before the shop opened the windows were obscured by illustrations of rather funky lambs. The illustrator was Hugo Guinness. (Just the sort of job that I would have loved to have done.)
What about the clothes? Embellished collars seem to be everywhere and J. Crew are no exception. All together now, I want the jumper, and the trousers and the bag and...
Grim weather, so it's on with cosy layering. I'm wearing clothes that are on the come around from daughters - I'm the third wearer of the 'coatigan' and the second wearer of the blouse. I've altered the buttons on both items. There were just too many on the cotton knit - perhaps you can imagine how ridiculous they looked on the upper flap pockets!
Less is definitely more in this instance. They are lovely buttons, mother-of-pearl marked with the firm's name. I'll hope to put them on another outfit some time.
The silk blouse hand-me-down from Banana Republic fits well underneath. It came with brass buttons which I always think have a rather military look. Out came the scissors and off went the brass. I've replaced them much prettier bicoloured ones that I found in the market. They connect the detailing in the collar and cuffs.
It was a bit of a chore to sew on so many buttons!
On a dull, damp day we took the boat across the lagoon to Murano and did a bit of window shopping.
First stop was the wonderful studio and showroom of the sisters Marina and Susanna Sent, where I was lured inside by the sight of a dress made of glass.
No photography was allowed, so the images are from the current catalogue with photo credits to Francesco Barasciutti.
This year the sisters are celebrating twenty years of creative collaboration. They produce the most tempting things. Congratulations!
Elsewhere on the island glass balloons seemed to be the flavour of the month. In Nasonmoretti
I met Marta Ruz, looking very elegant in muted colours against a backdrop of brightly coloured glass.
We popped outside the shop so that I could get a better picture
and she told me that the belt was an old one of her Mom's. Ah, I know that story well! (Although nowadays it also works the other way about and I inherit things from my daughters.)
Good belt, Momma, and thank you, it was lovely to meet you, Marta.
I was bundled up in woollens and waterproofs, (blending in with the walls in Burano)
but these young Japanese tourists were not going to let a bit of rain dampen their style!
"English?" they asked us. "Ooh, Davi Beckaam!"
The shop windows in Venice were more cosily attired for autumn weather.
And this lady on the water bus was laced into a rather distinctive outfit, with trousers that looked ideal for a ride on a horse.
I wear glasses and my current pair are utterly boring. The window display in Micromega was very tempting and I went into the shop to try some pairs on.
The only trouble was, without my own glasses on I couldn't see what I looked like with one lens round and the other one square - was it brilliant or merely very odd? The family couldn't decide. (I took that as a 'no'.)
Ah, well, it wouldn't do to look strange!
In Calle Carminati there was a lovely shoe shop, but with prices I couldn't afford. I asked the maker, Giovanna Zanella, if I could buy some of her beautifully coloured laces. Sadly the answer was no. (I asked all over the city but with no success.)
I can remember when Venice was full of small, creative shops like Giovanna's selling their hand made products.
I want them!
Wee One bought me a quirky watch -I could choose the face, any colour I wanedt, choose the strap, ditto. Mix and match. What a lot of fun. It took me ages to decide!
Himself rather fancied dressing like the gondaliere.
But he wasn't allowed.
And it was still shopping temptation at the airport