Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Lives in a house, a very big house, in the country

Image from

I had a lovely op-shop find yesterday - a 1963 Country Life annual. Do you know Country Life? It's a British magazine that's been around for many years focussing primarily on the tastes and habits of the English landed gentry (or what's left of it these days). Unfortunately I couldn't find any 60s covers online to show you but you get the idea with these two from this year - country houses and dogs. The 1963 number is a real treat, though, with all sorts of genteel articles about art, rambling and the English countryside. Not to mention "Saturday to Monday: A British Institution" - that is, what to pack for a weekend at a country house. Kit yourself out at Burberry, Moss Bros., Pringle and Aquascutum for a start, dress to "defend yourself against brambles" and wear "slacks, if you know your host does not disapprove...but skirts are more general". You couldn't say I don't give you valuable advice here!

Image from

Monday, November 28, 2011

Brideshead Revisited Revisited

The latest remake of Brideshead Revisited was on TV last night. I hadn't really planned to watch it, having not heard good reviews of it when it was released in the cinemas, but I gave it a go. It was up against it after the almost legendary TV adaptation made in 1981 with Jeremy Irons as Charles Ryder and Anthony Andrews brilliant as Sebastian Flyte. I loved that version so much that I bought the DVD boxed set. And I have always loved the score - I even had it on a vinyl LP. Having seen that series numerous times and marveled at how they had captured in a TV series such subtlety, I was doubly overwhelmed when I finally got around to reading Evelyn Waugh's beautiful book.

So, as I say, coming to the 2008 film version, they were up against it. I didn't mind the first half of it but as the plot progressed, the interpretation that the film's directors had decided upon - focussing heavily upon Charles' relationship with Sebastian to an extent and then to a large degree his relationship with Julia - was laid on so thickly and plainly that any of the subtlety and beauty of Waugh's story and the 1981 production was lost. But, having said that, my husband, who hasn't seen the Irons/Andrews version or read the book, quite enjoyed it. So perhaps I came to it too biased. What do you think about film and TV adaptations? Have you seen any of your favourite books done really well or...not so much?

Friday, November 25, 2011


Thank you so much for your great suggestions for making a more handmade Christmas. I also found this terrific list on Facebook put together by Pip Lincolne -!/notes/justb/edible-christmas-gifts-to-make/228936923840028 I am not a great fan of Christmas for various reasons so I am thinking (and hoping!) that approaching it in this way - with a little bit of crafty goodness - might just be enough to perk it right up for me!

Does anyone read the English Woman's Weekly? My grandmother read it religiously and even had a copy put aside for her every week at the local newsagency. I used to love looking at all the amazing cakes and spectacularly complicated but beautiful jumpers when I was a child and a lot of my early reading was of The Robin Family serial (it's about a family of robins, surprisingly). Lately I seem to be finding vintage copies of it around the place and I've quite fallen in love with it.

From comfort reading to comfort viewing, I watched The Royal last night for the first time. I had dismissed it previously as nothing more than Heartbeat set in a hospital but it is really quite good (and Wendy Craig is the matron, Butterflies fans!). Very nice, satisfying telly and that, sometimes, is just what one needs.

What's been comforting for you this week?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The C Word

Every year I say to myself, "I hate Christmas! It's so commercial! Why can't we have Christmas like they used to and make things to give? All this materialistic rubbish!" etc., etc. You get the idea. And every year I completely fail to practice what I preach because I can't think of what to make for people that won't appear to be some horrible, second-rate, cobbled-together, cheapskate gift rather than something gorgeously handmade that people will cherish.

But this year I am determined to make at least some handmade gifts. The question is - what? I am toying with the idea of some 'quick makes' on the knitting loom, like fingerless gloves (even though I am still very much a novice) and I am also thinking of lemon butter since our lemon tree is going absolutely mad at the moment and there are lemons everywhere. Then I get stuck for ideas. Do you have any suggestions? What gorgeous things are you making/have you made?


More music today...the wonderful Sandie Shaw, first singing one of her 60s classics and then a song she originally did with The Smiths. I have discovered a Smiths tribute band (Plagiarism Begins at Home), actually (imagine my excitement), and we're going to see them play on December 3. Can't wait!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Rush Hour

It was all go in the backyard yesterday evening. At about 7 pm, my husband and I went out to pick some herbs for dinner and I noticed that lots of passionflowers had come into bloom on the passionfruit vine. Upon closer inspection, I also saw that rush hour was in progress.

A little spider went steadily about his final business for the day...

While dozens of bees grabbed up the last lots of pollen to carry back to the hive...



I couldn't resist posting another Kate Bush clip today, this time - since I am about to start reading a bio of the Bronte sisters - the wonderful "Wuthering Heights".

Monday, November 21, 2011

Right now I'm...

knitting with the thick Alafoss Lopi wool on thick needles
Listening to old Kate Bush songs on You Tube
Reading An Academic Question by Barbara Pym and finding it so much more enjoyable the second time around
Eating pumpkin pie made by my husband from our pumpkins. Yum!
Discovering Pride and Prejudice (Colin-Firth-as-Mr-Darcy-version) on late night TV and loving it all over again

And how about you?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

We have a winner! librarygirl ( has correctly guessed that "Scarborough Fair", a beautiful old English folk song made famous by Simon and Garfunkel in the 60s, was the song title suggested by my photo on Wednesday! Thanks for 'having a crack' as we say here in Australia, librarygirl! The pretty, pretty doily will be winging its way to you very soon.

And here is the lovely song itself...

Have a beautiful weekend.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

In Apple Blossom Time

Does anyone know what this little guy is? I'm thinking apple blossom for some reason - I have no evidence for this - and the tree is entirely self-sown. Any suggestions appreciated!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fly like a starling

As we were preparing dinner last night, I looked down at some of our garden's herbs on the chopping board and I thought: "I reckon post number 424 is about time for a giveaway!" Or something like that. So...if you would like to have a very pretty thrifted doily framed in an embroidery hoop to hang on your wall, I would love to send it to you as a way to say "Thank you!" for popping into the Yellow Wood to have a wander around. All you have to do is the song title suggested by the herbs above! A winner will then be randomly generated on Friday and I will happily send this little bit of vintage pretty off to anywhere in the world!

This breathtaking video of a murmuration of starlings has been doing the Internet rounds lately but it is just so incredibly lovely, I just had to post it. Enjoy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Going Loomy

Nice, nice, nice stitch with my Icelandic wool...

The littlest loom at work (and I found Isela Phelps' The Beginner's Guide to Knitting on a Loom in the library today)

Many months ago, I acquired a set of knitting looms from the kind and generous Meg at Land of Meg ( I have to admit that they then sat in the study for rather a while because I just wasn't sure what to do with them and so I kind of moved on to other things. For no reason at all I picked them up the other day and thought "I'm going to learn how to use these things!" So, as we all do when we want information these days, I went to You Tube (!!) and found a how-to video. And...I love it! It is so easy and you get such nice results so quickly. I think I may even soon be able to make socks, despite months of puzzling over circular needles and wondering how on earth I would ever perform such a feat (I nearly wrote feet!) with conventional knitting needles. If you would like to try knitting but haven't had much luck using needles, I urge you...get a loom!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Friday Nostalgia

A little bit of nostalgia today. For no reason at all, Cricket magazine popped back into my head yesterday. I haven't thought about it in years but I read it religiously when I was a child in the late 70s and early 80s. They had a healthy supply at our local library and I would stock up whenever we paid a visit. I found some copies on Etsy yesterday and I've indulged myself by buying them. Did you read Cricket? What did you read as a little one?

And The Magic Roundabout. Brilliant. Did you watch it? I do wonder though that I understood it completely at age 3 or 4. "No wonder she was nationalised"??? Social commentary for the under-fives. I love it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A very necessary thing

So Blogtober is over. I didn't manage 31 days but ah, well. It was fun. And that's the main thing, I reckon. Actually, I noticed that I 'blogtobered' on 1 November by mistake, so do I get extra brownie points? :)


I have just (literally, just) finished a long piece of writing which has been annoying me for some weeks now. It just didn't work for so long. Now, I think it does - at least it's better - and it's over deadline anyway, so off it goes. Correspondingly, my brain is now fairly mushy!


Grey and cool here today but we are apparently expecting 33 degrees on Sunday. Typical Spring weather!


So many books waiting to be read on my bedside table right now:

Anita Brookner, The Rules of Engagement (In Progress)
Aeschylus, The Oresteia
Hilda Ellis Davidson, Roles of the Northern Goddess
Lucinda Hawksley, Lizzie Siddal (In Progress)
Kate Grenville, The Secret River
Tracey Chevalier, Remarkable Creatures (In Progress)
Magnus Magnusson, Viking~Hammer of the North (In Progress)
Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre
Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit (STILL In Progress)


I found a cassette tape of The Muppet Movie soundtrack in an op-shop yesterday. I think this song pre-dates that movie, but it's lovely, so I thought I'd pop it in. Ah Kermit, a very Zen frog.


So what's news with you?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Blogtober Day 19 - A large white rabbit

Reading Beanie Mouse's blog just now ( and seeing a pic of some sweet bunny statues in London, I was immediately reminded of Walter, the giant inflatable rabbit we saw in Singapore. We saw him out the front of the Singapore Art Museum ( on Bras Basah Road in Singapore but apparently he moves around town a bit too, as you can see above and below. Just the sort of whimsy I love! He's the creation of artist Dawn Ng.

The two photos above are from

This one is from the Singapore Art Museum website.