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My week as a cook in France…

We have just returned from France, where Mr Z was participating in Music at Albignac, a series of piano summer schools run by pianist and author Paul Roberts and his partner, arts journalist and fabulous cook, Jenny Gilbert. Mr Z knew them at York University but they had lost touch, only to discover recently that […]

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‘Peto, build me a pergola!’

  A glorious day at West Dean gardens Time for the annual visit to the gardens at West Dean, just north of Chichester, for which the Edwardian architect and landscape designer, Harold Peto, designed a stunning pergola for owner and philanthropist Edward James. I met my husband at West Dean, in 1984, when the gardens […]

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Lady Ottoline’s threads

How I envy Lady Ottoline Morrell – well, perhaps not her features (Augustus John, who painted her, said she had a ‘prognathous jaw and bold baronial nose’ – not that these prevented her from having numerous lovers, including Roger Fry and Bertrand Russell), but her life. With funds and time and bold tastes she created […]

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A treasure in Amsterdam

Had a wonderful week in Amsterdam last year, staying on a super cool houseboat in the Jordaan. One of our favourite museums was the Jewish Historical Museum, arranged over four synagogues near the old Jewish quarter. In the first section, the various Jewish festivals are described. One of these is Purim, which celebrates the story of Esther, […]

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Sketches in the margin…

Last year I started buying antique documents and experimenting with paper collage and a little mixed media. One document was so exquisite I had it printed across a width of linen and made a bolster, embroidering a little in the margins – my first attempt at machine embroidery (I have been doing a lot more […]

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A visit to Sissinghurst castle

I have been to Sissinghurst many times, but it is always more fun to go back with someone for whom it is a first visit. My friend Jane shares my passion for plants. I have been with friends who like gardens, who stop and admire the larger view, but this was the first time I […]

The medicine chest of the past - essences and tinctures of herbs and flowers.

Syrup of rhubarb and other cures

Those who visit my stand at fairs will know that I like to include vintage bottles in my displays. I like the shapes, the uneven, cloudy glass and the different colours and textures (vivid greens and blues with a ridged edge for poisons). Most of all, I like the chemists’ dispensing bottles with their intriguing […]

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