Sunday, 31 January 2010

In praise of Fifties architecture

On a bright sunny day - cold but crisp and clear, I found myself waiting at the bus-stop outside this fine example of municipal architecture.

Once, it was the telephone exchange for Walthamstow, but now it lies derelict.  I love the clean lines, the blocky font, the moulded concrete.  The bright blue sky and skeletal wintry trees help.

Looking at it, I feel nostaglic for a world that probably never really existed. A world where Skylon was the vision of the future and the everyday looked something like a Ladybird book illustration:

Now, here's a nice pipe dream: imagine rescuing the building and turning it into a house, full of long white walls, bright sunlight and Mid-Century Modern furniture. And maybe a roof terrace with bamboo and a deck.  Ah, well, I can dream...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Weekend treats

Here in the doldrums of mid-week, I have been thinking that, for me, breakfast is one of the big weekend treats.

Instead of grabbing a mouthful of museli while simultaneously brushing your hair and ironing your clothes, Saturday and Sunday mornings are all about laziness. You can luxuriate over the weekend papers, gaze out of the window or do a little light knitting in your dressing gown with a pot of fresh-brewed coffee till lunchtime and no one bats an eyelid. And then, of course, you just move seamlessly onto brunch!

My best weekend breakfasts:
  • Srambled eggs on granary toast
  • American style pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup
  • Muffins with goats cheese and homemade chutney
  • Toasted sodabread with Nanna's orange and ginger marmalade
  • Homemade banana muffins with walnuts and pumpkin seeds
  • Porridge (not instant!) with nuts and seeds, and sweetened with honey
Here's the easy-peasy recipe for Nigella's American Style Pancakes:

30g butter, melted
225g plain flour
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of sugar
pinch of salt
300 ml milk
2 eggs

Stick everything in the blender!

Mmmmm ...

Bring on the weekend!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

13th January. Snow.

I started the day in a horribly bad mood - forgot my keys, needed wellies, slammed the door, slipped on the icy path, tube delayed and crowded - and startled myself by the smallness of the small stuff I was well and truly sweating. How ridiculous to be so affected by minor upsets and utterly surmountable obstacles.  Storm ... teacup ... anyone?  I forced myself to be still, calm and slow until the feeling subsided. Oh, and a nice slow-brewed fairtrade coffee in a pretty mug helped too.

So, to aid and abet that elusive still, calm feeling, I am going to look for inspiration and beauty in the small details of the day: this is the first, snow on branches in Elephant and Castle.

Hope it helps you too!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

In praise of independent shops

This year, we spent Christmas in Morpeth, crossing point of the River Wansbeck and homeland of the Boy. Morpeth was one of the biggest cattle markets in England and now is a largish market town in beautiful Northumbria, with lovely architecture including a 13th century chapel, lots of characterful old inns and a riverside which suffered from heavy flooding in 2008.

It also has (unofficially) the smallest park in Britain, a Costa Coffee (the excitement!) and an interesting Friday night social scene (think police vans in Market Square at chucking out time) ...

And, subject of this 'In praise of', plentiful independent shops, including:
  • John Smail and Sons, purveyors of every item of ironmongery your heart could ever desire and just the slightest bit 'Are You Being Served?'
  • The fantastic Cheese Shop, with 47 million local cheeses and some damn fine quince and rosepetal jam

  • A labyrinthine second-hand bookshop, with floor after floor of gems, literary and otherwise, and a superb, tiny vintage clothes store in the attic

  • And a knitting shop, which I was devastated to see remain closed over the holiday period
and many, many more, all seemingly thriving despite the close proximity of Newcastle's bustling streets of identikit high street chain shops and department stores, and upmarket boutiques, such as Central Arcade.

As you can imagine, I was happy to spend my threepence-ha'penny in Morpeth.

I wonder, though, what effect the brand spanking new Sanderson Arcade mall - modelled on Burlington Arcade in Piccadilly, opened in November by none other than Joanna Lumley and such an attraction in the area that a park-and-ride bus scheme has been laid on - will have on the independent traders of Morpeth.

Blessing or curse?

Friday, 1 January 2010

New Year's Resolutions 2010

Happy New Year, everyone!

My word for 2010? Creative. My resolutions?
  1. Eat well - this year, I plan to cook more often and more adventurously to feed my family and feast with my friends, bake cakes and eat fruit. I will treat my body well.
  2. Exercise regularly - pilates, running, swimming, cycling, because I know it makes me feel better in body, mind and soul.
  3. Sleep better - I am going to make time to wind down and relax before bed, and to make the bedroom cosy, luxurious, nuturing ... and soporific! And get a cat. Good for the stress levels, or so they say.
  4. Be crafty - I am going to treat Saturday mornings as craft time, I will sew, make lino prints, blog and write, paint, recycle and make stuff, take photos and do projects. And more craft courses needed in my life generally, too, I think (B, can I count you in?)
  5. Do It Myself - this is the year for renovations, bathroom and kitchen. Watch this space ...
[ Facebook readers - read this and more on my blog This Butterfly Mind. ]


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