Sunday, 29 July 2012


Mr N and I are always on the look-out for interesting photographs. A box of old photos can usually be found at every antiques or vintage fair and is always worth rummaging through. Yesterday I found this antique carte de visite - a portrait of two boys, probably Anglo-Chinese, looking a little unhappy in their neatly tailored Western suits. People rarely look happy and relaxed in Victorian photographs, perhaps because they had to stay very still. Sometimes they managed to look mildly amused, like the lady in this daguerreotype.

We are told on the back of this ambrotype that these are twins...

The child in the frilliest frock is a girl, the other, similarly attired, is her brother. Individual photographs can be worth thousands - a few fetch over £1,000,000 at auction. But usually a pound or so will buy an evocative view or a portrait that stirs the imagination. If they could speak what would they say...?

"When I grow up I will be Holly Hunter and make a film called "The Piano"


"I thought I'd told you! NEVER touch me again!"


"Don't worry Mama, everything will be all right. We'll bury Papa in the garden just as soon as we've cleaned that stain off the floor."


"I'm a gamekeeper ma'am. D.H. Lawrence is planning to put me in one of them books he writes."


"I've trained him, tested him and now he's ready for action. If only he wouldn't insist on wearing those Mary Janes."


"At last, the opening ceremony's over. Anyone want to buy one of these signs?"

NB These photos are all from my own collection.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


Both Mr N and Master N rarely enthuse about my culinary efforts (see above, yesterday's lunch - OK so it's only a fish cake, but quite tasty and nicely presented.) 
It must be in the genes and not my dreadful cooking because Master N's three half brothers shower me with praise:
"Oooh Mum - is this home-made?"
"It's gorgeous - so light!"
"Can we take the left-overs home?" etc.
Indeed, the only vaguely negative remark I can remember one of them making was during our brief flirtation with vegetarianism:
"Mum, what's tofu for...?"

Sometimes I feel Mr N & Son need a little jolt out of their complacency, and for this I have a secret collection of cookery books...

...this one is useful.

Shall we have this tomorrow...

                                                     ...or maybe this?

I think I'll go with this tempting 70s-style Salami Salad!
Ah - revenge is sweet...


Saturday, 21 July 2012


We chanced upon this architectural gem last week. It is the 18th century Gothic revival church of St. Mary Magdalene at Croome D'Abitot, Worcestershire; a garden temple of a church designed by Lancelot "Capability" Brown as an "eye-catcher", to compliment the landscaped grounds of Croome Court.

The interior is equally delightful, having been designed by Robert Adam in the new Gothick style, with vaulted ceilings, intricate centrepieces, and a  simple, geometric marble and slate floor.

A group of 17th century monuments were transferred from the earlier church,  contrasting in their opulence with this pretty, airy interior. 

Here is the effigy of John, 4th Lord of Coventry (d.1687) by Grinling Gibbons, his hand reaching out to Faith.

Here lies Thomas, 1st Lord Coventry (d.1639), Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, and across from him is his daughter-in-law, Mary. She is holding a baby, indicating that she died in childbirth, and two other children kneel at her feet.

Down the hill from the church the house, recently acquired by the National Trust, is a work in progress having had various occupants over the past 70 years including the Dutch Royal Family (during WW2), a school and, for a while, members of the Hare Krishna movement who updated the colours on these ornate plaster mouldings.

Inside the house the NT invited us to answer this question.

The visit to the beautiful church on the hill suggested that - at least once upon a time - it was what you could buy if you had the money. We wonder if that is still true...


Monday, 16 July 2012


We started off here...

First - a medieval manor house filled with charming curiosities.


Second - refreshments and antiques in my sort of town - it's a favourite with Hugh, too.


Third - ammonites and Annings be here.


Fourth - a golden and glorious setting for a WAG wedding...

...and plenty to make my day memorable.

Tea for one.

Places revealed:

The Start - Lower Severalls Farm (highly recommended).

First - Lytes Cary Manor, Somerset.
Second - Bridport, Dorset.
Third - Lyme Regis, Dorset.
Fourth - Montacute House, Somerset.