Tuesday, 27 August 2013


Look what we did on the weekend:

Busy weren't we. Wallpapering. With Anna Spiro for Porter's Paints beautiful, hand drawn, 'Rosey Posey Trellis'. Notice the arch and all those door openings. All I can say is thank goodness my husband knew what he was doing.....he'd wallpapered his bedroom....when he was thirteen. We may have stayed up just a little bit late on Saturday night and at times on Sunday the pattern became almost the quest to join the dots. We got there in the end..... at around about half ten on Sunday night. I really love how it's turned out, it's totally transformed the area at the top of the stairs and it works so well with the toile sofa and Persian rugs which were already in situ.

Being just over 100 years old, our house has myriad elements which scream 'olde worlde, dark and fusty' yet cleverly, this wallpaper has taken all of that on board and now announces that it is unapologetically all of the above and that it's also the home of a 21st century family......don't you think?

I couldn't help myself and instagrammed one of the above photos.....imagine my excitement when it elicited the following comment from Anna Spiro herself....'Well look at that! I think this is my favourite use of my wallpaper yet!' Exciting.

After much deliberation, I am about to order a Designer's Guild velvet to cover the chair that I nearly had reupholstered last year in blush pink. To tie in with this space, I'm thinking that I might go emerald green with a dark blue trim (which also, coincidentally, happens to be Rupert Campbell - Black's racing colours in reverse):

Although I was also momentarily toying with mauve:

Both colours are featured in the nearby window, yet wouldn't be too outrageously matchy - matchy and would provide a pop of colour against the blue:

Or should I just go with hot pink.....Anna, if you're reading?

Serendipidously, over the weekend, I'd put the Jilly Cooper novel down and happened to be flicking through this book 'David Hicks: A Life of Design':

It is such an inspirational read when you are tizzing up your own many ideas. I can't wait to flagrantly steal this look.....when I finally get around to taking my pile of framing in, I will be asking for different coloured picture mounts.....a la David Hicks circa 1953:

This book is a visual feast of images of the late David Hicks' work, flavoured with stories about his fabulous life. It was written by his son, Ashley, whom you might remember showed our gardening tour around his parents garden at 'The Grove' back in the torrential rain:

I subsequently looked up Ashley Hicks on Wikipedia (as you do) and was surprised that it claimed that he avoided the fateful boat trip in Ireland....the one where the boat was blown up by the IRA killing his grandfather, Lord Mountbatten, his cousin and a local teenager, because, and I quote.....'I didn't go on the boat because I went to buy some cigarettes'. I wonder if it's true.

Anyway, back to the book about his father.....I loved the story about how proud David Hicks was to have his 13 year old daughter, India, participate as a bridesmaid at the Royal Wedding of Prince Charles and  Lady Diana proud that he had the wreath of flowers that she wore on her head, dried, framed in perspex and put on display at his home.

I was also seriously impressed with David Hicks' drinks table...check it out:

This, in stark contrast, is ours:

It's so dry that it even has an orchid growing in the champagne bucket. Addled by jet lag, we did momentarily think about stocking up on spirits duty free on our re entry into the country, however, remembered just in the nick of time that we'd already used our booze limit to bring in Chateauneuf du Pape.

Having read what David Hicks wrote about an under stocked drinks table...'it not only looks mean, but is visually meaningless (harsh words)...I like rows and rows...and several back up bottles of gives a generous, welcoming atmosphere, and if a bus load of friends does descend on you, you are ready for them'. I might have to drop in to the bottle shop on the way to do the school run.


Monday, 19 August 2013


Hello from a wintery afternoon in Hobart.....complete with snow on Mt Wellington:

We are home. After a meticulously executed 44 hour trip from Nimes, which involved hire cars, trains, planes and pre booked maxi taxis we materialised at our front door only to discover that we'd forgotten to organise......the keys. Cue the locksmith. By this time it was dark and cold. Bleak. We had to go out again. To say goodbye to our last remaining beagle. Somehow he managed to make it to the day that we arrived home and we were able to say goodbye. Cue the tears.

The last two weeks have been a fog of jet lag and displacement....and I'll admit to also indulging in a tad of gratuitous homecoming malaise.....I have packets of sunflower seeds sitting on the kitchen bench waiting to be planted and I've been painting my toenails YSL 'Bleu Majorelle' which is the colour of the Mediterranean sky:

Sigh. So while I may have been daydreaming about our sojourn in the south of France the reality has been the unrelenting horror of unpacking the did that happen so soon.....and a never ending whirlwind of athletics carnivals, Irish Dancing Competitions, teacher meetings and myriad trips to the uniform pool. 

So, I've been trying to console myself with some soothing (although possibly manic) gardening....planting more box (because you can NEVER have too much), roses, punnets and punnets of hollyhock seedlings......and the beagles. Look how stunning this hedged rose garden in Stockholm was:

And those Danes have an incredible gift for using hollyhocks, they seem to just sprout out of the footpath:

 So beautiful. Needless to say,  I'm determined to try to achieve this effect at my house.

Things have been made to feel worse as I've succumbed to a nasty little lurgy, which has been working it's way through the whole family and has now taken up residence just behind my face. So yesterday, I had to pull out all the stops and between rain showers we all rugged up so that I could lead an expedition to the Botanic Gardens to gaze upon the wonderment that is Peter Cundall's Veggie Patch made famous on the ABC's 'Gardening Australia' programme. It's always guaranteed to make me feel happy.....however the sight that greeted my eyes was enough to make me.....almost....cry. It's been gutted:

I had no idea. 

Anyway, I've also been engaging in a spot of comforting home decorating which ultimately involves wallpaper and still my beating heart....yet to set the plans in motion it also involved getting the plasterer in, who, of course, reduced the house to an utter mess. Plaster dust = days of dusting, vacuuming and mopping. There is no way around this sorry fact. 

I keep flashing back to our road trip to Sweden, Denmark and Ireland, where everybody in the family had a turn at ticking something off their bucket list. The boys lived their dream of two days at Legoland and a night in the hotel.....where our room overlooked the magic that is Miniland and our Irish Dancing aholic daughter celebrated her 12th birthday in Dublin....complete with tickets to Riverdance at the Gaiety Theatre. 

And me? Mine happened in Stockholm, when I'm not ashamed to admit that I dragged the whole family to the recently opened ABBA: The Museum:

Tick. I loved every single minute of it. How could I not....I danced on stage to 'Mama Mia', sang 'Waterloo' in the sound recording booth, sat in the 'Arrival' helicopter:

And then.....I stood in front of these:

It all came flooding desperately I coveted one of these dresses as a five year old. In fact, given the chance, I'd still love to give one a whirl on the dance floor. 

Did you know that the girl's had their names emblazoned on the back...see:

And that back in the early days of ABBA, Frida used to make their costumes. 

And my husband? He was very excited to actually drink Guinness and watch 'Father Ted' Ireland. I'm pleased to report that he did both....even on a couple of occasions at the same time:

And then, just because it was there and it had to be done, we all kissed the Blarney Stone:

 Even the baby:

I mentioned this to an Irish friend the other day at the school gate and she promptly told me that all of the local lads after closing time at the pub in Blarney.....go and pee on it. I hope she made that up.