Here we are, after what felt like the longest January and flash-by Feb, I hope you've had a pleasant start to the new year. I thought it'd be a while
before I could introduce grassy vibrancy back on the blog, what with winter and icy cold walks being the norm. Yet, it's a chance to share my
birthday from earlier last year in May. I hoped to share it closer to the time...yet procrastination got the better of me. It was my 28th in fact. Do I feel
my years? Not so much. You're as old as you feel though, right? Quote me on that in about 20 years when the #LeafLadies movement (the politically
correct term - no Crazy Plant Lady here) and Dog Lady is in full force. Sounds like the dream to be honest.
We visited Calke Abbey in Derbyshire, surrounded by greenery. There's an undeniable happiness it brings and reminds me that summer isn't too far
away, especially when I look out of my window right now to see a blizzard. No exaggeration. I'm considering this get-up for the next trudge into
town. Even so, there is something mesmerizing about watching the snow and it also makes a great canvas.
Wooden branches in the distance lay like an inviting outdoor installation. A quick hike up the marshy hill led me to find a giant dino-lizard snapping
at my heels. No time to stop...
Venturing in, we found hand-crafted sculptures in wood and wrought-iron lining the garden square. The horsie heads in particular were eye-
catching, with curved panels of wood carefully pieced together. I'm hoping to create a dimensional illustration in my garden this year. Small shards of
wood are to be combined, forming multiple figures. Handsaw and sandpaper are at the ready. Last summer, my dad kindly helped me design and
create small-scale planters for my miniature rockery. This summer, it's be nice to create larger ones to house all the floral trees, such as the magnolia
and cherry blossom. This way, there'll be space for roots to spread out and branches to flower.
We stopped for carrot cake and tea, surrounded by specks of colour. The more sedate lifestyle has kicked in...and quite frankly, I love it.
Walking through, I admired the various blooms, whilst trying to decide on one to purchase. The creamy white petals took centre stage, with their
long draping stems. I didn't catch their name...although if I had to guess, I'd say a variety of gladioli? Three years ago, I planted peacock orchids,
which have similar elegant flower heads. Their bulbs also multiply naturally, so I found many beautiful clusters popping up unexpectedly. Not to
mention the stunning fragrance they release. Catching wind of the scent when walking by is something else. If you're going to plant any flowers for
their smell, make it this variety. Here's hoping the tuberose I planted come to bloom this year, as they're also known for their aroma. The garden
critters need to take a back seat and resist eating them.
We were looking forward to exploring the stately manor which the grounds hold, yet we missed the last tour time. I guess it's an excuse to come and
visit another time with the fam, alike our day in Newark. Many a stable to see here, alas no horsies this time around. Ivy crept up the walls, reminding
me of how it enthusiastically made it's way up tree trunks two Januaries ago, That particular day is a little more fitting in matching the current chill in
the air (I'll be staying here and thinking warm thoughts).
A field of delicate Queen Anne's lace looked as though it had been carefully meshed together. Something I want to do more of this year is hand-
stitch. I recently purchased a stash of seed beads to sew onto paper (if I'm treating myself, it's usually to art goodies and such - it's for my craft, so
justifiable, of course). It starts with 'Oh, I need some light green beads...may as well get them in dark green too seeing as I'm here...can't hold out on
the turquoise...andd checkout'. As pretty as they look in the beadtrove, a mini goal is get them threaded onto a surface. Also, It must've been my first
time seeing black petunias, so they had to make small feature. Fielding and covering many a floral base here.
When toadstools make an appearance, a pixie moment is inevitable. You should see the outtakes of trying to hop aboard - it's a lot higher than it
looks - although we'll save those for another day. (Yeah, they're never seeing the light of day). I chose the dianthus in a pastel shade of orange as my
birthday plant. I have a variety of this flower in shades of pink and they've grown back year after year. They happen to be more commonly known as
'pinks' too, irrespective of colour. Hopefully this one will continue to re-bloom annually in the garden, reminding me of this point in my life.
The dresses I usually wear tend to be of a flared style. yet I was happy to wear this floral number that my mum actually sewed for for me. The love of
sewing is indeed something that's passed down. The apple gladly doesn't fall far and all. I paired it with some tassel loafers, where you can find a
similar pair here. I do like a good tassel or fringe detailing, be it on a shoe or paper. Spotting this nettle mass reminded me of the perils of pricking
plants, alike rosehip thorns - a price I was willing to pay for creating art that day.
Our first encounter when we came upon the vast grounds, was with plentiful sheep. They dotted along the landscape and we were welcomed with
a chorus of bleating. Maybe they were singing Happy Birthday. Casual sauntering and days basking in the shade, like little lamb here have got to be
the best. I'm having a hard time believing that May is rolling around again, so very soon.
Various stones were embedded in the patchwork wall, with different textures and colours working together. It was reminiscent of a collection of
minaudierès and totes. Speaking of stone bags, Barbara Segal is an artist whose work takes heavy shopping bags to a whole new level. She deftly
carves handbags from precious stones, such as marble and onyx. Each design is sculpted to the nearest mm measurement of the original bag, The
attention to detail and bands of colour from the natural material is astounding. It'd be a Herculean feat walking around with these creations -
probably best to admire from a table top on this occasion.
Winding roads twisted in the hilly distance, asking to be explored...
Fields of gold. Sting wasn't joking when he said 'you'll remember me' - he was clearly singing from the perspective of the yellow-petalled fleurs. We
were initially going to call it a day, before we decided to set out on one last stroll around the grounds. The sunshine piercing through was a dream.
Taking the extra steps showed that it's the only way to see where the path leads. If the bright buttercup field we discovered is anything to go by, I'm
going to go ahead and believe it's somewhere beautifully surreal.
Our first port of call in London is usually the Riding House Cafe. The berry pancakes haven't quite been bettered elsewhere. Me and @Hinisha_
are happy to try various places for breakfast, yet find ourselves returning to our old fave. Speaking of sweet treats. we've also tried gelato from
different gelatarie in the big city, yet no place has come close to Gelato Village. If you should so happen to find yourself in Leicester, it's worth your
while to make a little visit (The tiramisu and pistachio though). Hometown wins the point this round, although there's still many sugary morsel to
sample. I've heard good things about Milk Train, where you can find ice-cream with a halo of candyfloss. When I was younger, I just had to have a
candyfloss bag every time we visited the fair...until I was a little older to realize a sack of sugar probably isn't the healthiest snack. I'll totally make an
exception and give in here - it'd be a fun throwback to carefree days of the past .
Satisfied from a delicious breakfast, we set out onto the bustling street. A quick spot of browsing on Oxford Street and a busy tube ride later, we
found ourselves at Westminster. I remember when I was working in London a few years ago and met a friend here. As I climbed the steps, I literally
gasped as a silhouette of the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament came into view. It was essentially a view of postcard London, that dusky
evening, This sunny day, I'm reminded of how nice it is to see the city in shades-worthy weather. The wintry chill of February also springs to mind,
with the beautifully glistening Thames making up for frozen fingers.
We played tourist, weaving through the hustle and bustle, finding a moment to admire the architecture. I've mentioned how a statement necklace
adds detail to an outfit, where a trip to the floral ceiling garden in Bank complemented the accessories. A gold-tone leaf wreath has a dramatic and
eye-catching element to it. The simplicity of the choker here and necklace here are also striking, with a delicately elegant touch.
It was a busy day, where we also wanted to check out an art exhibition. The many galleries and shows that take place here are something I miss
about the city. I guess it's about making the most out of the opportunities that are on your doorstep. I recently heard about Chelsea In Bloom, where
retailers feature floral art adorning their store. A reason to make a visit next year.
In an ever-so-slight haste to get to our venue that day before closing, I asked the time. Sis dryly replied how I should divert my attention to the big
clock over there (in so many words). It's not often you can tell the time with a casual glance at arguably, the most famous clock in the world.
The afternoon sun cropped up ablaze, with everything glowing red. The season of cosy knits and autumnal wrapping is upon us. Like the multi-hued
palette I enjoy painting with, I'm a fan of colourful coats and tie-up trenches. I purchased a dusty pink one similar to the one here recently, which I'm
looking forward to wearing soon. How's a bit of cobalt colour-blocking for drama? I'm liking the tartan take here on the classic trench by Burberry.
This one makes me want to pull out the felt-tips and get a little scrawly. I'm reminded of Nerds carefully scattered across the surface with this jacket
(another candy treat enjoyed in my childhood) - I would happily wear this one. Sometimes I opt for tweed and combine it with a belt, alike our visit
to Richmond, this time last year. Scarves and hats in jewel tones would complement the rich browns and ochres of the season.
Wherever I am, I love art-spotting. Pockets of creativity can found pretty much everywhere, especially in London. Be it a play on a famous fashion
perfume or an uplifting quote...there's always something to make you smile. The intricate mosaics at Tottenham Court station also caught my eye,
where I had just long enough to enjoy the miniature details, before getting swept up in a throng of people. Gotta keep on moving...
A visit to the National Gallery was made, to see a beautifully vibrant tapestry designed by Chris Offili. The Caged Bird's song is a bold triptych which
is hand-woven at the loom, by skilled weavers of the Clothworkers Company. The collaborative effort translates Ofili's watercolour vision on a
stunning scale. What I found particularly fascinating was how the entwined threads blend so effortlessly to create nuances in shade. In the
accompanying video, near the 44 minute mark, the artist is also taken with how 'that's a pool of pigment, but it's been rendered in wool'. Amazing.
The aptly named 'Threadneedle street' came across our way as we continued exploring. That's the beauty of this place - you never know what you'll
discover. It also felt like a little reminder to get back in the atelier and create. Even with numerous ideas floating around in my mind, I feel as though I
haven't been spending enough time actually putting them on paper and stitching. There's no time like now to get going, without worrying about
what the outcome will be. Just starting and getting lost in the process is important...everything else, alike speeding carriages on the underground,
will keep on moving like clockwork (most of the time).
“Have I gone mad?“
“I'm afraid so, but let me tell you something...the best people usually are.” - Lewis Carroll
Deep down the rabbithole (or deep in the USB hard drive in this case), a small door came to light. I rediscovered the adventures of Alice in
Wonderland at an exhibition showcased at the British Library. When I was younger, there was nothing like escaping into a good book and that's
something that's stayed with me. Let's delve in...
Alice has done a lot of exploring over the past 150 years. When the story was first released, it was refreshingly 'more entertaining and whimsical than
other children’s books of the period'. Lewis Caroll originally painted the artwork for the manuscript himself and displeased with his work, sought a
professional illustrator. Sir John Tenniel created 42 designs, where modern day interpretations of the 'Alice' headband stem from Tenniel’s
illustrations, rather than Caroll's description - artists collaborating to make magic!
Colourful and bold art featured on boards dotted around. I particularly liked the graphic illustration by Leonard Weisgard above, with its beautifully
layered composition. Statement roses unfurl with a design I painted previously, with gems at the core. I'd like to think the Queen of Hearts would be
pleased; as beautiful as red roses are. let's add a little more colour to the mix. (Head remaining firmly intact, thanks).
Curiosity gets the better of you when navigating your way through. Gigantic doll houses and a miniature mad-hatter tea party add to the surrealism. I
was reminded of the cushion I created a while ago, interpreting her journey on a fabric canvas. Stitched roses sat in teacups and a gem-encrusted
key could be found at hand. The joys of creating at a small scale; the beads are perfect sized ornaments.
There is of course, the famous scene with an array of vocal blooms singing. I planted many new species this year, including a white rose bush and
purple blazing star stems. The fuzzy surface reminds me of the allium I saw on the floral ceiling in London. I've also painted marigolds for mum, as
they are her favourite. Irises planted a few year ago happily sprout up year after year, where at bud stage, they resemble polished amethyst.
Many a lavender and foxglove stalk swish from the flower bed. My sister, the minimalist asked, who initially planted the foxglove. No-one recalls
planting them; they just came to thrive in the garden one year. She isn't too keen on the long stalks being visually overpowering, whereas I like the
garden to be as harmoniously busy as possible. For the past two years the pink foxglove has been self-seeding. This year, a cream-bulbed variety
actually sprouted. Nature is pretty awesome.
Flowers remind me that everything is ephemeral - we all have our moments to be in bloom. That said, it's also a state of mind and you can always be
growing and blossoming in different ways. Sometimes I can't bring myself to snip floral buds for an illustration, where it was particularly tricky with
the calla lillies I planted this year. The entire box was brimming with swirled petals! I remind myself that the petals will eventually fall and capturing
them in their full glory allows me to preserve that snapshot in time...as well as share my own creative touch.
As Alice says “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.” Know it's worth being present to venture down the flower-
lined path...and see where the white rabbit takes you.
Day trips with my family are the highlight of Summer. It's a nice time to catch up and create memories, which we look back on fondly. We
initially intended to visit Lincoln on the sunny Sunday. We set out at 2.30 after lunch and everyone was finally good to go (I can't help but think of the
Friends episode where no-one is ready!) Half-way through our journey, we realised that we weren't going to make it in time to enter the castle there.
Slight detour - time to get on our phones to see what nearby attraction we could visit. Newark became our new port of call.
Driving past the English countryside feels like looking out at a continuously-changing painting; shades of green on an abstract canvas. The charming
stoops, mint doors and rustic charm of Newark invited us in. When I look back at the photos of things that caught my eye at the time, I think about
how it would look if it was considered by itself. It definitely works completely as one image, yet more so, of course, in context, For example, here's a
a picture of a draped leafy mound. Then this scene springs to mind and it makes sense. 'That IS a nice boulder'.
On our journey, a field glided past us with some beautiful horses appreciating the good life. We just had to make a quick pit stop to
say hello! Their charming selves sauntered over, where a mid-carrot snack captured a cheeky-tongue. They're such friendly animals, where we also
met lovely horses on a visit to Elvaston in Derby (which also has a famed castle and gardens). It's safe to say you're easily enamoured.
Newarke castle's dramatic structure swept across the landscape, casting shadows on the grassy land. The Midlands is home to a few castles.
Whenever I see such architecture, I wonder what it would have been like to explore the building when it stood in its full glory. Vanilla ice-cream at
hand, we made our way around the grand ruins. It was a quiet and mellow day, with many people enjoying being by the dockside.
Walking around brought us to a surrounding moat and a view of the west tower curtain wall. According to the information point, the 1300's was when
the expansive riverside wall was built. Transport by river was widely used in medieval times, where supplies would have delivered by the watergate.
The water also protected the large face of the building from attack. Many a medieval film seen sprung to mind - think Robin Hood and the Prince of
Thieves and First Knight, as well as a throwback to English classes and reading about Macbeth's antics.
Two types of stone were used for the construction, to give a multi-coloured effect. King Edward I made this tonal-stone aesthetic popular, where it
was also used for the castle at Caernarfon (A quick google search has surprised me in the sheer scale of this castle in Wales- definitely looks like
one to visit!) Blending into the hidden alcoves, they also provided a brief respite from the sun.
The fortress once belonged to King John in 1216, and it was here that he met his demise after consuming an infamous ''surfeit of peaches''. Although I
believe in moderation of everything, if you were going to leave this earth, it may as well be doing something you love. The Bishop Rotheram
eventually came to occupy the castle in 1470 and had two statement bay windows erected next to the north-west tower. It provided light at the end
of the dining hall, where it must have been quite the view at lunchtime. What a way to survey the idyllic landscape and kingdom.
We didn't get there in time to make the river trip, yet it was peaceful watching all the boats carefreely glide by. Classic aviators are my usual go-to in
the summertime. I've been on the look out for some cat-eye sunglasses to add a fun touch to an outfit, yet which are still relatively versatile. This
tortoiseshell design and this statement number catch my eye. We took a moment on the dockside to watch the sun glinting on the surface. Relaxed
Sundays at their best.
I'm a fan of nautical stripes, where my wardrobe contains a host of striped tees; navy and white being a classic favourite. Audrey Tatou in 'Coco
Before Chanel' channels that relaxed chic look effortlessly, with a bold Breton t-shirt. They're great for mix and matching, with the designs here and
here perfect for dressing up. A pop of yellow also adds eye-catching detail. The trousers here and here are a breezy spin on the stripes theme.
Who doesn't love a little photobomb? My sister Hinisha making her debut on the blog, who is also an artist, as well as a Kiehl's skincare expert.
Looking after your skin is especially important in the sunshine, where I'm rarely seen without a wide brimmed hat to stay protected. I'm a fan of the
sequinned text element of this one, with similar designs here and here, More suncare in a future post! Until then, I'll be here relishing the
sunrays and hope you're enjoying it too.
Whilst at the City Centre, we had the chance to see the iconic London skyline. We had also made a visit here to see an exhibition which felt like
entering an all-encompassing secret garden. Hundreds of blooms were suspended in the air, almost as if they would delicately rain down on us any
The vision of Rebecca Louise Law, the installation features numerous florals gently held with copper wire. A meandering petal river created with a
vast array of flowers, they originally started fresh and vibrant. The transition to this stage shows how the twilight state is just as significant and
stunning. There is a passion for 'natural change and preservation' where 'her work evolves as nature takes its course and offers an alternative
concept of beauty.' The artists love of flora also stems from wishing to highlight the important relationship between nature and humans.
Like a Van Gogh painting, the Starry Night sky sprung to mind. Taken by the swirling motifs, they guide the eye continuously through the entire sky
garden; a vast and never-ending space. The upturned meadow features a diverse collection, ranging from Japanese peonies to English roses. The
hanging gardens of London...Babylon where you at?
The thread-like web gently drapes and connects each stem, blending the various layers of colour and mottled design. I've grown a range of bulbs in
the garden this year, with the tulips first to show their beautiful face. It's only a matter of time before all the flowers are out in full force. There's
happiness found in each stage...especially when I see a little bud shooting out of the ground. It is really is in the simple pleasures.
On a day to day basis, I keep things simple in terms of jewellery. Accessories-wise, I sometimes find a statement necklace says everything I need to.
The Rosa choker and necklace create a subtle pop of colour against a white background. Layering necklaces, the Willow, Oak and Pearle choker
work harmoniously with the rosy tone. Wooden beads entwined with thread add an earthy element.
The falling petals inspire, with mini dots of colour strewn across the floor when they've had their moment in the sun. I spotted lily-of-the valley,
irises, bluebells and yellow milfoil clusters here. Bursts of allium take to the stage, where I'm reminded of the purple flower in the film Horton
Hears a Who when I see them....maybe there is a whole microcosm of life on each fuzzy orb.
In my garden, it's nice to be able to appreciate how each variety blossoms at its own pace. A part of me wishes they'd stay in bloom forever, yet the
change time brings about is a reminder that everything has it's moments to shine. It's a perfect metaphor in remembering to be present to enjoy it.
It feels as though we'd waited forever for the sun to emerge this year. A quote by Hal Borland comes to mind - 'No winter lasts forever; no spring
skips its turn'. The renewal and recharge that Spring brings is always exciting...as well as the pastel palette which is on its way!