Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A quick study break (and choral music)

Christmas draws closer, and, although I am studying for my law course, everyone needs a little break. So make a cup of tea and maybe find a biscuit or two (or in my case, stollen - thanks mama!): I have a musical and restful treat in store for you.

Here is what I consider one of the most beautiful pieces of Christmas choral music in the world. I defy you to find one more spine-tingling than Lauridsen's O Magnum Mysterium.

As ever, there are a multitude of different versions available on youtube, spotify etc - this is the one by the Nordic Chamber Choir. If you fancy buying it off iTunes though, the Stephen Layton/Polyphony version is sublime. It was only written twenty years ago, but doesn't it feel utterly timeless?

Hope you're having a happy November.

E xxx

Postcards from Penguin

 Postcards from Penguin is pretty much what is says on the tin - 100 beautifully thick and heavy-duty postcards of iconic Penguin books covers. I can never resist the look of the orange-and-white paperbacks, which, although originally released to be cheap and cheerful books, I almost prefer to modern versions. If ever I see a penguin classics version by one of my favourite authors, I usually have to buy it for my collection!

Postcards from Penguin is pretty much what is says on the tin - 100 beautifully thick and heavy-duty postcards of iconic Penguin books covers. I can never resist the look of the orange-and-white paperbacks, which, although originally released to be cheap and cheerful books, I almost prefer to modern versions. If ever I see a penguin classics version by one of my favourite authors, I usually have to buy it for my collection!

The only issue with the classic covers is that they are, well, so orange. I always wanted to frame some as a form of affordable art, and I couldn't quite face the prospect of orange on my pale cobalt-blue walls. Luckily the array of 100 book covers is very colourful! So, I created a collage of all the blue-based (non-fiction) Penguin covers....

What do you think?

E xxx

P.S. You can get 100 lovely postcards from the children's "Puffin" books, and "Ladybird, too. The Penguin Modern Classics collection is probably the classiest for the more grown-up among you...

Friday, 8 November 2013

Seagull Jumper

One of my favourite things about the run-up to winter is it being acceptable to start wearing Christmas jumpers - not full on Mr. Darcy Style, of course:

(photo from Recycled Fashion)

But a more stylishly Scandinavian version (think Sarah Lund from the Killing).

However, since I'm not really in the Christmas mood yet - Guy Fawkes' Day/Bonfire Night has only just been and gone - this lovely Seagull jumper by the amazing Quba seems a nice compromise. Snuggly and warm - perfect for walks - but not overtly festive - yet!

Do you like it?

E xxx

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Griffin and Sabine: An Extraordinary Correspondence

When I was little I used to love the 'Jolly Postman', a children's book by Janet and Allan Ahlberg about a postman (a jolly one) delivering letters to various fairytale characters. The story was sweet and illustrations lovely, but what I loved most was the fact there were actual letters inside little envelopes that one had to take out, unfold and read to continue with the story.

It is that interactive side to reading that first drew me to Nick Bantock's beautiful Griffin and Sabine trilogy - a sort of exquisite Jolly Postman for grown ups - a book entirely in correspondence. In truth, I first read them when I was too young - I stumbled across them in my parents' bookshelves and was drawn to the front cover. Consequently, I didn't wholly understand everything the books hinted at (but going back on them and reading them again has been inspiring) - but I adored the gorgeous illustrations (all Bantock's handiwork), the art form of the exchange of postcards, both sides shown to the reader, and the crisp letters folded inside envelopes.

It is, essentially, an enigmatic and artistic love story spanning three books, sparked when a postcard arrives from Sabine, to Griffin. She is a stamp illustrator who has lived all her life on a tiny Pacific island, and he is a lonely, disillusioned artist based in London. Mysteriously, she can see every stroke he paints, and every line he draws, and so on finding out his identity, writes to him to try and understand the phenomenon.

(Photos from

And so the extraordinary correspondence is born!

It is both a puzzle and a joy to read. I have only just discovered that he wrote a second trilogy following on from the first - the next three are definitely on my Christmas list!

Would you read a book like this? Or would you feel childish?

E xxx

P.S.  J J Abrams has recently been involved with a book called 's.' which sounds like a similarly interactive reading experience. It's essentially an old, cryptic novel by a fictional author filled with handwritten notes in the margin, and with newspaper clippings, scrawls on napkins, and scraps of paper tucked into the pages. I am dying to read it- it sounds so interesting (though perhaps pretentious? But maybe that's JJ for you!). Here's the link.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

A Moment (or 12 minutes) of Peace

Allegri's Miserere came on the radio (Classic FM - great channel for studying!) yesterday and I was reminded of how beautiful it is. It really is the most peaceful music.

Have a listen - this is a version by the The Sixteen (an incredible choir led by Harry Christophers), but the Tallis Scholars version is also beautiful:

There is a lovely bit of history that goes with this piece. The Pope at the time it was written thought it was so beautiful that he decreed that it was never allowed to be performed outside the walls of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. This was the case for over 100 years - the manuscript was never published - but it became legendary. Then, in 1700 a 14 year old lad (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) visited, heard it twice, then later wrote it down from memory. Apparently the original Miserere was simpler than the one we know today (as this little documentary shows) but still an impressive feat!  After this, the Pope at the time congratulated Mozart on his musical talent, and the Miserere Mei was shared with the world.

Ah, I love choral music. Any favourites?

E xxx

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Kari Herer Photography.

Everyone loves peonies; they are so romantic and overwhelming. This amazing Etsy shop by Kari Herer sells the most exquisitely dreamy photographs of flowers.

Have a look - which is your favourite? I like this one, and this one too.

E xxx

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Season of Mists and Mellow Fruitfulness

Autumn is by far my favourite season. As time rolls towards October, the evenings close in, and the air becomes chillier. There's nothing I like more than wrapping up in woolly layers to go outside, and to feel the pink sting of cold air on my face. Autumn is the time of hot chocolate, cinnamon, soups, firelight, falling leaves. The trees are still in their summer greenery at the moment, but I am looking forward to the riot of colours to come (nothing like the spectacular New England fall colours, unfortunately, but still golden and stately).

Anyway, there is something deliciously cosy about staying in on autumn evenings (with a cup of mulled wine, perhaps?) and an enthralling book. Here are a few on my wishlist:

(Photo from PanMacmillan)

I love tales of the war, and this biography about a young woman who signed up for the Wrens (because she liked their hats, naturally) and was drafted into the secret services seems just my cup of tea. I can't even imagine her bravery - especially when she had to tell her family she was just working for the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries. A fiction 'version' of this that I have read recently is Jackdaws, by Ken Follett (author of the amazing Pillars of the Earth and World Without End), which is about the heroic female spies parachuted into wartime France, whose bravery was barely acknowledged because the medals they deserved were not, at the time, awarded to women.

Also on my wishlist is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. I've read so many good reviews for this, and the premise is so intriguing - the chance to live a life again, an infinite number of times, changing the path taken. I can't wait to read it.

Finally, although I've already read this, I had to recommend it to you. A love of Jane Austen (or at least, familiarity with Pride and Prejudice) is a must - it is such a joyful read. Simply put, it's Pride and Prejudice below stairs, but in reality it's much more rewarding than that. There are enough glimpses of the real P&P novel to make the Austen-lover smile, but it's actually an entirely different story of the incredibly difficult lives of the servants of Longbourn, the Bennets' residence, who, to be brutally honest, do not care a fig for the balls, Bingleys or romances occurring, and instead are exasperatedly calculating how long it will take to remove those six inches of mud from Miss Elizabeth Bennet's skirts. Of all the books I've read this year (and I've read a few), this is my recommendation! Let me know what you think!

E xxx

P.S. You know what I'm like about book covers, so I couldn't resist: the American version is infinitely superior to the British! Click here to have a look. It's so much more simple, elegant, and regency than the horrendous British purple cover, which seems more brash and Victorian to me...

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

The Places of Pride and Prejudice

Another academic year approaches, and I am in need of a book bag - I like the cottony ones that can be folded up when not in use (or, in my case, scrunched up and shoved to the bottom of my handbag). This lovely tote by Brookish on Etsy is definitely at the top of my wishlist - it's simple yet literary (and references one of my favourite books), and is big enough to carry the gigantic law tomes I've been given...

I also discovered Alphabet Bags the other day and am obsessed with pretty much everything they sell. I love the 'Bee's Knees' and 'Cat's Pyjamas' bags, as well as the whimsical 'Let's get lost' and, of course, the 'E' bags! Take a look, they have so much lovely stuff!

Do you have a favourite?

E xxx

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Castle Key Bottle Opener

I'm not a beer drinker at all (for no reason other than I simply do not like it!) but I developed a certain fondness for Hunter's Dry Cider in South Africa, and bottle openers suddenly became an issue. No one ever seemed to have one (so we perfected the many ways of opening a bottle without one - except the 'opening with teeth' approach that I downright refused to attempt). Since coming back to England I thought it would be nice to source some bottles for the reunion this autumn - and to find a bottle opener more elegant than the top of my corkscrew!

This is what I found:

Isn't this totally lovely? By Oliver Bonas, it is so whimsical and mysterious (what does it open?) and is even pretty enough to hang up in the kitchen without looking like an alcoholic!

This one by Anthropologie is also pretty.

E xxx

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Radio Silence

So sorry, I've been in Cape Town for the past month!
I thought I'd console you with a picture:

Isn't it glorious? 
Normal service will resume shortly.

E xxx

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Pashley Bottle Bar Bag

My father merrily cycles to work and back in the middle of London rush hour, but the thought of getting on a bike in the city terrifies me - those buses! 

He consequently loves saddle bags and satchels, and recently showed me the latest on his wishlist, a beautiful despatch bag by Pashley. Pashley actually manufacture the most beautiful British bicycles, the sleek English-gentleman sort with little baskets on the front, but their accessories collection is so great. Needless to say, I spotted a little bag that I liked:

How smart is that? I can imagine cycling on a dreamy summer's evening to a dinner party with a bottle of wine for the host safely buckled inside..

However, this will have to remain a fantasy, as not only is this almost £200, but I also value my life too much. 

Anyway, am off to South Africa for a month now, so I won't post until I return. Have an amazing July!

E xxx

Friday, 21 June 2013

David Austin Ceramics

David Austin is a rose specialist - he breeds and collects roses, and has been developing English roses for decades. I do love roses but am also fairly bad at keeping plants alive (I do have the best intentions though!), so the fact that he has also recently launched a 'home' line, is more exciting for me. I have utterly fallen in love with his Shropshire Rose collection. I'm such a sucker for blue and white china - I'm obsessed with it - and my little flat currently has a charmingly mismatched selection (so I tell myself) - this jug would make a welcome addition!

It also comes in pale blue:

Which do you prefer? I'd also rather like this little notebook: 
(All photos from

E xxx

Monday, 10 June 2013

iPhone Cases

I've had the same iPhone case for a while now, and it's getting rather battered and scratched - it's been dropped a few too many times, I think! So, time to look for a replacement...

There is an overwhelming amount of choice out there, but here are a few of my favourites:

Here is a pretty Cath Kidston one, perfect for summertime.

(photo from Cath Kidston)

My soul aches for this beautiful Rifle Paper Co. case!

This one too:

(Photos from Rifle Paper Co.)

I love this tromp d'oeil 'watercolour paints' cover:

(Photo from etsy)

and finally, a dash of patriotism from Emma Bridgewater:

(Photo from Emma Bridgewater)

Which is your favourite? I want them all!

E xxx

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

The Lifeboat

(photo from

I've just finished reading The Lifeboat, by Charlotte Rogan, and here I am, recommending it to you. Set in 1914, it follows the experiences of Grace Winter, a survivor of a sunken cruise ship, crammed onto a lifeboat that is dangerously over-capacity with dozens of other men and women. It's fascinating to see the power struggles, the rumours, storytelling and feuds that start and spread through the cramped boat as it floats for three weeks in the middle of the Atlantic. As it becomes clear that the only way for the boat to survive in the merciless ocean is by lightening its load, it leads you to question your own morals - who would you choose to go overboard? Would you sacrifice yourself for 30 others? Would you kill somebody?

My sister, who, in turn, recommended it to me described it as 'a combination of The Life of Pi and Alias Grace', an apt description indeed. The cramped boat is a wonderful stage for the action, and the narrator is deliciously unreliable!

E xxx

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Botanical Garlands by Rifle Paper Co.

My exams are over! To celebrate, I'm holding a little garden party next week, and in a fit of excitement ordered this beautiful garland set from the Rifle Paper Co. to string up outside.

So, the box is super pretty - and you can already tell how exquisite the illustrations are:

There are 80 cards - 8 of which are just floral designs, and the rest are letters, in varying hues of pale pink, teal and faded brown. It comes with a 5 yard ribbon, so the words or phrase can be fairly long! I had a go with the title of my blog:

There was definitely room to spread the letters out, as I only used about 2/3 of the ribbon up. Now all I need to do is think up a suitably summery greeting for my party guests! Anyone for a Pimm's?

E xxx

P.S. I just LOVE everything the Rifle Paper Co. does! This card makes me smile, and this happy iPhone case is definitely on my wish list! Also, this stationery set would be a lovely present for a young horse enthusiast!

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Smith's Rosebud Salve

One of my favourite bloggers (from The Princess and the Frog Blog) wrote about Smith's Rosebud Salve a few weeks ago, and on a whim, I ordered some off Amazon to give it a go. I'd heard things about it before, with the words 'cult buy' and 'beauty classic' bandied about, but this glowing recommendation prompted me to finally go ahead with the purchase.

I paid £7.50 for it, which I suppose sounds a lot (It's cheaper in the US - $6 a tin), but I consider it totally worth it. I adore it for a number of reasons. Firstly, the tin is old fashioned and a sweet navy and white.  The texture of the salve itself is unlike anything I've tried before - I thought it might be like the rose Vaseline you can buy - but it's silky and almost gel-like, and so moisturising (and therefore non-sticky). Also, it is tinted a very transparent rosy hue, which is super pretty. Finally, it is divinely (but not too strongly) scented of roses!

Try it! You will be converted. I'm not sure I will ever buy anything else...!

E xxx

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Benjamin Francis Leftwich

I have just come home from watching Benjamin Francis Leftwich perform live in London. Have you heard of him? He has the most strange, wonderful voice and his songs are so beautiful.

This is the first of his songs that I heard, a couple of years ago. It reminds me of lying in the sun and having nothing to do but make daisy chains and read novels.

Isn't it a lovely, dreamy song for summer?

E xxx

P.S.  You can download or buy his album here, or most of his songs are on youtube. 'Pictures' and 'Sophie' are a couple of other favourites of mine.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Summer Straws

I was putting off studying for my next exam by idly daydreaming about the garden party I am going to host in early June, when this misery of work is (temporarily) behind me...

Now, people may laugh but I have been poring over Pippa Middleton's 'Celebrate' (I'd been hankering after it for ages and my mama bought it for me as a cheer-up/revision present!). I don't care what anyone says (people have been very scathing about it), I think it is wonderful! It's so full of thoughtful and interesting ideas, and for someone who likes to throw any kind of social gathering (be it a supper party, soiree, brunch, murder mystery dinner, drinks or afternoon tea) it just made me so excited to try out her recipes and decorating tips. I would genuinely heartily recommend it, it's such a knowledgable, wholesome and beautifully put together book.

Anyway, that is not the point of this post. Inspired by the lovely Pippa, I was looking for some old fashioned paper straws that I thought would be a nice addition to the glasses of Pimm's that people are going to be drinking at my party, and I found these:

Aren't they PERFECT? I am pretty sure my heart actually ached when I read that Terrain doesn't ship to the UK.. I don't think I will find any others as sweet as these, but I will keep looking...

E xxx

Monday, 13 May 2013

Out of Print Clothing

I know everyone's in a bit of a Gatsby fever at the moment (have you seen the new film? The combination of a) it not coming out in England til this Thursday and b) me being in the middle of exams means I won't get to see it for a while but I am very excited - I know Leo and Carey will be sensational though I've read Baz Lurhman overdoes it a bit) but I thought this t-shirt from Out of Print Clothing rather lovely:

You can also get the classic American cover:

Both Gatsby ones come in lots of different colours! I adore this website, they have so many cute book cover tshirts and jumpers. You can shop by book title to see if your favourite is there! They also do jumpers (sweaters) and totes.

I feel like I want them all, but I especially like Charlotte's Web, Tales of the Jazz Age, and the cover of Jane Eyre, which looks like a bad romance novel! 

Which do you like? Would you wear one?

E xxx

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Tall Ship

So, my mother and I ordered this print by the lovely (Canadian) Banquet Atelier & Workshop  for our kitchen. Home has recently been redone in coastal, beachy blues and whites (it is, after all, by the sea), and we thought it would be perfect for the new theme. We love its mix of tradition and freshness!

Banquet do so many beautiful prints. I would love this whale for my flat in London!

E xxx

Saturday, 6 April 2013

The Book Thief

Have you read The Book Thief? I first it read years ago when it was first published in England (I remember I loved it so much I emailed the author, Markus Zusak, who replied! I was excited.). Ever since then I've recommended it to anyone who asks (and indeed, to some who don't), but I realised that I could barely remember what happened in it, apart from the basics. I only remember the feeling after I'd read it. So, I reread it today, and was struck again - perhaps even more sov- by how beautifully written and staggeringly good it is. I also wept my face off.

So, here I am, recommending it to you. It was first published in Zusak's native Australia as an adult book, and it was subsequently published in America as a children's book. Some of the themes are pretty gruelling (it is, after all, concerning Nazi Germany), but written in such a human way that they are not frightening. Still, maybe under-12s shouldn't read it...

I implore you to give it a try.

Here's the cover (picture from amazon):


E xxx

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Almost Easter!

Don't these look divine? I am so excited for Easter!

E xxx

P.S. Photo from Gourmet Traveller.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


The bag I usually carry around is amazing - black and tan, boxy and deceptively cavernous -  it seems to fit anything I want inside! However, with Spring on the horizon I've been looking for one that's prettier, but still big enough to fit a bottle of water, sunglasses, a scarf and umbrella in (the weather is so unpredictable!).
I've had a look at all my favourite shops (Topshop, H&M, Forever21 etc), but ASOS has really stolen the show here  - here are my top three:

E xxx