Tuesday, 27 May 2014


"What are you like ?" Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.
A cheeky, light-hearted question these days, but, in the Victorian era, it was a respectable parlour game for young ladies. Players were asked to describe themselves by doing a series of drawings or paintings of their favourite things. I'm not sure if there was a prize for the best illustrations, or for the most difficult images to decipher, but - it amused girls in those days.
Can you work out the answers? These two are easy.

Typical girl - I'd say she wanted to marry and live happily ever after.
Shooting for the moon! She had ambition too.
This is my favourite - s-candle.
Can you guess these?
I can't work this one out - I know it's a quill pen, but...
Recently, contemporary artists including Peter Blake and Mary Fedden created their own versions...
...but, sadly, I don't think parlour games are about to make a comeback.
iPhone games rule in the parlour, kitchen, bedroom, train, bus...

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


There's something fantastical about the gardens at Levens Hall near Kendal in Cumbria. When we visited last week we felt sure that Alice was hiding round every corner, always one step ahead of us in a giant topiary chess game.
Her friends had been hard at work - these gardens were perfectly tended.

Alice was always one move ahead of us.
Could this be her...
... sitting and dreaming of long ago?
Our magical overnight trip North took in Wensleydale, Levens Hall in Cumbria, Housesteads Roman Camp on Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland - and lots of antiques shops. We stayed at an excellent B&B, Low Fotherley Farmhouse.


Sunday, 11 May 2014


Something was in the air on Saturday morning.

Our village was celebrating Spring and its bounty!

My lovely sister-in-law tunes up her concertina...

...and the Medusa Morris ladies begin!


It could only be England!
I explained to my neighbour Mrs W that this is how they welcome Spring in Harrogate. "Must be a rain dance!" she said.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014


I may have mentioned before that we are an unadventurous pair who rarely venture further than the shores of this little island. But yesterday, as I surveyed the heap of motley odds and ends we'd found on our travels round the North of England over the past few days, I realised that, in a way, the world tends to come to us. I'll show you what I mean.
Here is a pretty Victorian hand-quilted patchwork from County Durham...
...and lying on top of it, an old Aboriginal boomerang from Australia, carved with snakes,
a Chinese medal from the 1920s bearing a portrait of the founding father of the Republic of China, Sun Yat-sen,
two tiny Inuit carved polar bears, barely an inch long, squaring up to each other
and Japanese porcelain dragons coiling their tails around a miniature vase.
Here, in antique Norwegian wood, are some beautiful carved servers.

Nearly home now - a 1920s embroidered sampler from France, made into a pretty cushion. Which sends me off at a tangent on a different journey, back in time. I wonder if anyone else remembers this?
All Over The World by Francoise Hardy - it transports me back to teenage love.
Perhaps you have to have been there - way back in 1965.