Friday, 24 January 2014

We Were Missed
We're back from the big city and my son, Breon, hurls himself in my arms.
 "Thank god you're home". 
When we left four days earlier, he had assured us that he would be fine.
“I’m almost 18, go, I'll be fine. I need the peace and quiet". 

We went to the trade show confident of his and the house and its contents wellbeing,
Being the good mother I am I called home at least 3 times a day and he seemed perfectly ok. What dread had he been keeping from me, what hidden terror had he endured?

"I was so bored. The dog was bored, the cats were bored. We were bored”.

 I was confused, the last I knew the husband and myself were, and I quote “Middle aged, bourgeois, olive eating, wine guzzling, Archers listening, sweater wearers”.  Surely our absence would have made his life less boring. Maybe my commitment to finish work by 5.40 each evening, leave my upstairs office and catch the last 20 minutes of Pointless is a daily highlight after all. And the husband’s varied and charming knitted jumpers might have added more pizzazz to the day than we realised. 
After more probing I discover that he quite likes talking to us even if it is to wind me up on his new ideas for an anarchistic Cornish state.

It also turned out that he'd not turned the heating on all the time we were away, scared that he'd burn the house down. I think he took our health and safety power point presentation too much to heart. Still As long as he bends his knees when he lifts heavy objects our time wasn't wasted. The fact that we have central heating which I like to think is the safest of heating units and now we have a condenser boiler the most cost effective – see fascinating, not boring at all.
Weren't you cold I asked? 

"It's alright.  I'm tough, I've got to get used to it when I leave home" 

I did point out that he was probably going to Bath University not Yak herding in Outer Mongolia. 

The animals too celebrated our homecoming. 
Our dog Maggie jumped and down for a quarter of an hour and bought us a selection of favourite toys so delighted was she at the wanderers return. When I went to bed Stevie Piglet, the smaller of the kittens, was beside himself, meowing, nuzzling, poddling he'd obviously missed us too. He spent the whole night sitting on my head, purring into my ear so much so I had many vivid dreams of myself in a speedboat driven by TV comedian, David Mitchell. Why not Daniel Craig? I'd have to investigate my subconscious, but Mr Mitchell is a few years younger than me so that makes me a dream cougar. Go me! 
In all I felt oddly flattered to be so yearned for, to have our presence missed. May be we are the centre of the universe after all.

We've been doing some publicity photos this week with my old friend Mike Newman from Ocean Image. I enjoy these days as Mike knows anyone who's anyone in Cornwall and brings me up to date with the local news. The new colours I've introduced to our palette, Cornish Earth and Autumn Teal have been utilised in our existing designs and I'm keen to show how all our fabrics can be used together as they've been selected to complement each other. The photos also include one of my favourite themes I have used over the years, Staffordshire pottery.  I specially love the Staffordshire Spaniel dogs. They come in various sizes and colours but are enormously cute and can work well in an eclectic vintage or traditional setting. They have long been an iconic image of the Victorian parlour and until about 15 years ago were still quite costly now they cost anything from £15 – £75 online or at auction. They are also becoming very fashionable so keep it to yourself.

Friday, 17 January 2014

My mate Wayne

Once again in pursuit of fortune if not fame, we've crossed the Tamar to attend the annual interiors trade show Home-London.  This show will be the last one held at Earls Court. The iconic Art Deco facade will be no more, it will be demolished and the area will be filled with upmarket dwellings further gentrifying the area creating a posh corridor into Fulham. London is always in flux. 

This week we've been rubbing shoulders with Wayne Hemingway, well not exactly rubbing shoulders but I have seen him sitting down and he once walked by us so we're almost family. He looks just like Wayne Hemingway but smaller. I want him to be my friend as a ice breaker should I tell him I had a pair of his shoes once? It's not really an anecdote, more snippet of irrelevant information but it’s all I’ve got. I don't think it will strengthen our bond, but he's definitely going on my Christmas card list.  Most famous people don't look how you would expect. I saw Angus Deyton once, I'd assumed he was a tall man he wasn't, I could have put him in my pocket.

At trade shows you sell ... well to the trade ... independent shops, department stores, international buyers and the growing online market. Most of the items you see in the interior and homes magazines would have debuted at one of these events. We're launching our new colour way into our collection, Cornish Earth a wonderful brown grey - that's the technical description. Whereas retails shows are an assault course full of activity and energy,  trade shows are an endurance test where seasoned buyers apply the steely glint of supine disinterest. Footfall at these events over the recession have been low. Gone are the days when the aisles would be full and your voice would be hoarse from telling the story of you product.   We witness gaggles of terrifying women with high heels and shiny faces, buyers from the big stores. They whirlwind by, an aside or a point might be thrown in your direction and then onward to the next big thing, their hairsprays and unctions reeking havoc with the ozone layer. The smaller shops tread more carefully, assessing every stand for its potential, all too aware of their budget, a wrong decision will cost . And then there are the ones who come to sell you something, you can always tell who they are as they smile at you for no reason - never trust someone smiling at nothing you’ll end up with something you don’t want. 

Let me introduce you to Mrs Moore Vintage Store and her wonderful ceramics. Her New Vintage' is a range of tea sets, dinner ware, textiles and stationery designed by Anna Moore. The designs are unique and distinctive without trying to be too “vintage”. They have launched two designs, 'Metamorphosis' and 'Alice In Wonderland', with new ranges being added each season. She has a great eye, her Metamorphosis designs are curious and amusing unions of human and animal antique prints. Produced in the UK .  I think she will do very well with her delightful products. They can be bought in the south west at Number FiVe, 5 Higher StreetDartmouth, TQ6 9RB

Finally we gather together a posse of friends and head off for dinner. We leave a place free for our friend Wayne, he never turns up. Well he's off my Christmas card list and the anecdote will have to wait.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Fragrant Ladies and Weight Loss
I don't do New Years resolutions. I realised many years ago that rash decisions made on a day you're hung over holds no water. According to people who know these things, the number one resolution is to lose weight.

I'm having none of that. I've never bought in to the myth that if, I lose half my body weight my life will be perfect, that my problems will disappear and those nagging doubts about my place on this earth will be quelled. In Cornish parlance I am a ' fine great maid'. To those unaware of our county's euphemistic  terms, I'm a bit on the plump side, not fat but well covered. When I was born I was, 10 pounds 8 ounces, now that's a big baby for any generation, my dad said on his first sight of me " it wasn't that you were fat, my love, you just looked about 6 months old - or that you'd eaten all the other babies in the ward". I don't worry about my soft covering, I'm very healthy, rarely get Ill and if I say so myself, I 'scrub up' ok. In short I'll probably never be particularly over weight as I do too much lugging of 60 metre rolls of fabric around and I'll never be thin as I eat too much. When on the rare occasion I do cut down my caloric intake,  I keep it simple, homemade veg soup for lunch and smaller portions. The obsession with the minutiae of one’s diet seems to be its downfall. That constant demon on the shoulder whispering into their ear "you know there's chocolate in the cupboard and that butter won't eat itself". The elephant in the room, if you'll excuse the expression, is that food is often the reward for abstinence. The secret is not to tell anyone you're dieting. Do it quietly, without bells and whistles and definitely don't let your subconscious know as it's liable to scupper it.

My first day back at work was made more palatable by popping in to David Lays Auction House for their general sale. To be honest a lot of things at general sales will not send the world alight ­– unless you buy it, don’t like it and have a lovely bonfire – but often there can be little gems hidden only by ones imagination. A box of books struck me as rather gorgeous. These romantic fiction book covers are a delight. Spanning the fifties and sixties, these hard backed books depicting fragrant ladies, incomplete without their strong jawed paramours are a delicious anachronism, frozen in time . They will look fantastic as a feature wall, placed outwards on a bookshelf or arranged in strategic piles on side and coffee tables. They have a real charm and are now becoming collectable but still easily picked up individually at boot sales and charity shops. They are certainly images at odds with our current social mores but show the quality of great illustration perfectly In tune with its time.

Monday, 30 December 2013

In the Bleak Mid Winter
The winter season is speeding headlong towards the the 25th and it's busy. I get to the warehouse early as we've got a mass of orders to go out. We're based outside of Penzance, edging on to countryside, and I share the building with various creative industries and an undertakers - mmm yes. Christmas is hotting up directly in inverse proportion to my freezing work conditions. It's cold, the grass is crispy white and Maggie, my dog, creates wispy clouds as she sniffs out the rabbit runs. I'm questioning my style aversion to Uggs. They would keep my tootsies warm but reduce my already truncated Cornish legs to furry, suede ended stumps - and my friends and family will laugh at me, so I'll settle for intact pride and frost bitten toes and desert boots. It is still and quiet. Maggie sits out side waiting for the wind to catch and send a leaf or two flying so she can chase. I hobble around in my arctic cave packing aprons and oven gloves, cutting lengths of oilcloth.  I fold and tuck, willing the pile of orders to come to an end. I listen to women's hour and the splendid Jane Garvey and a London fashionista tells us the Ugg has had its day.  A lucky escape, I am relieved that I hadn't succumbed.

As the chill encroaches I’ve been seeking out warmth for you and have been tempted by beautiful woollen throws by Bronte. I love their subtle colours inspired by the landscape and  nature. Bronte Operate from one of Britain’s last remaining vertical mills they convert  raw wool into beautiful products including the initial design, dyeing, blending, spinning, and weaving. Their products are
stocked by Interiors Hyde Park in Plymouth see them on Facebook/interiorshydepark.
For your winter table this season an affordable alternative is to scour your charity shops and auctions for mismatched glassware. I have quite a collection of crystal glasses cast out over the last couple of decades by people less enamoured by the chintzy glitter of cut glass. A mismatched table of glasses, water jugs and decanters adds impact especially if you keep your table simple, white cloth and crocs and classic bone handled cutlery. Place a few natural wax candles in between and some ivy strands and see them twinkle.

I have various projects prior to Christmas, mostly food related but one is proving more difficult. For many years now I have been collecting vintage Christmas decorations. This is way before Kirsty Alsopp raised her posh snoot above the 'make do end mend' parapet. Each year as the year ends I trawl charity shops and auctions for once loved glass baubles and tacky santas. I have gathered some delights in my travels but the pickings in recent years have grown slim due to  the popularity of vintage lifestyles and interiors. These 'Johnny come latelys' have made my little talismans of Christmas wonder thin on the ground.  But joy of joys this week I chanced upon a small box of battered and loved glass ornaments with their delicate tin clasps and wire hoops that help suspend the precious globes - and all for 2 pounds. Nonchalantly I take the box to the counter along with a rather bald Father Christmas  figure who will add a winsome charm to my Xmas tableau. Two lovely ladies officiated at the charity shop,  one dressed as a fairy, white and fluffy as a middleaged snowball, the other as an elf, the kind of elf that would send cats up curtains and children screaming behind parents legs. These charming girls could not have known my pleasure selling me a box of yesterday's tat. I won't  say what my husband said when I bought them home ….