15 March 2014

Flashback: The French House in London

I set off into London with a list.
A list of stores where I could potentially buy a new sofa.
I had done my research, had a few suggestions and was raring to go.

I had one store in mind when I hopped off the Parsons Green tube stop in London.
I have my A-Z London App. on my iphone...it always gets me where I need to go.

I got lost and that was ok. 
I always tell my kids the fun doesn't begin until you get lost.
That is when the true adventure begins.

As I wandered the streets, I spotted a bicycle. 

If you follow Collage of Life, you will know
what happens when I spot a bicycle...a photo is usually involved.

It is sort of like the children' story, If You Give a Pig a Pancake,
one thing leads to another and before you know it...

So..I saw the bicycle and thought I would investigate. 

Can you see why? This building had 'investigate' written all over it. 
The French House is hard to describe...you have to enter to truly appreciate it.

 Are any of you like me and
feel the thrill when you spot a tumble of this and that?

I had a feeling it could only get better... and it did. :)

The French House hit every note with me. 
I walked through it again and again,
taking in every inch of it and let me tell you...
that says a lot because
this warehouse type store is filled to the brim.

Potential was written over every piece. 
My heart was racing.

And then I spotted it. The chaise longue below. 
No matter that it was torn here and there, that it had
 been patched up to no end. I took one look and 
the chair instantly transported me to every country 
I have ever travelled to over the years. 
I had found my travelling chaise longue.

 I am now the happy owner. The chaise longue is going to be rebuilt for me, 
lovingly restored with this and that and the original fabric 
which happens to be an old carpet. I know...some of you may think 
I have completely lost my senses but you know
when something is right, it is right. Have you ever had that feeling?

There is only one little teensy weensy problem.
I have no where to put it.
My kids would tell you... what I say to them in this situation.
'If there is a will...there is a way'.

Oh yes, when I got home the kids 
asked how I went with my couch search.

I must get onto that... I did manage a photo.
I will save that for another day.

Original Post..here.

19 November 2013

For the love of marmalade... #fortnumandmason

If you love a luscious tasting marmalade...
we say, look no further than Fortnum and Mason.We have tried them all...from America, to Australia, to New Zealand and back again. Mr. and Mr. H have declared that no one does it as well as Fortnum and Mason. With each visit to London, Mr. H has a simple assignment, buy as much Forthum and Mason marmalade as you can fit into your luggage. The man never ceases to amaze me with what he can get into his luggage. If their is a will..there is a way. 

If you love a luscious tasting marmalade...
and orange is your flavour of choice...here are a few to tempt you. Even better...pick up a few as a Christmas gift with a few tins of Fortnum and Mason tea...you will be the best gift give ever..promise!

 This classic vintage marmalade was made by Fortnum’s in the 1920s 
for actor-manager Sir Nigel Playfair, who asked for a bitter, thick-cut preserve for his toast. 
We met his request with this – a strong, substantial marmalade with a deep flavour 
and lots of chewy peel. The colour of dark marmalade is often achieved by cooking the sugar for longer; 
but we make it with two sorts of brown sugar instead, to give colour without overcooking. 
The result is a rich, citrussy, not-too-sweet flavour. A cheering sight on one’s breakfast table. 

Dark Navy Rum Marmalade
Made to celebrate Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar, this magnificent marmalade 
recreates the naval tradition of a daily tot of rum. A helping of Pusser’s Rum 
is added to the jar after cooking and is stirred gently through the dark jelly 
and medium-cut peel to create a memorable flavour.

Old English Hunt Marmalade
The Pytchley Hunt has been well chronicled from the mid 17th century. 
The traditional pre-hunt breakfast prizes the energy-giving properties of marmalade, 
and this medium-cut recipe is exactly how they like it. 

Pale Navy Orange Marmalade
 This medium cut marmalade was created to commemorate 
Vice Admiral Nelson's victory over the French at Trafalgar. 
Our marmalade contains the same generous tot of British Navy Rum 
as the darker version but used lighter sugar to give a more delicate flavour.

Monarch Full-bodied Vintage Marmalade
For too many centuries, the regal breakfast has lacked a truly monarchical marmalade. 
For almost as long, Fortnum’s chefs have striven to create the recipe to crown all others. 
But at last here it is – a full-bodied, thick-cut, vintage Seville orange marmalade made 
with soft brown cane sugar. One’s toast will feel highly privileged.


13 November 2013

An expats world..from Surrey to Saigon

 One thing I have learned in my 18 years as an expat is that you open a lot of doors. Throw in a few windows and you keep yourself pretty busy trying to keep your expat world in order. This thought came to me today as I assembled all my 'expat england' photos into one file. I admit there were quite a few heart strings that were pulled as I went along. Photos of family gatherings, expeditions into the English countryside and quiet sojourns into London are now collected into one file. I had to pinch myself, it's surreal to think of a time when I walked to the local train station to catch a 20 minute ride into London.

When we boarded the plane for Vietnam, leaving England behind, I found the easiest way to make the transition was to shut the door until I was ready to open it again. If I had made the transition from a Southeast Asian city to Saigon I would probably have left the door ajar. The differences would not have been so extreme. To move from Surrey to Saigon was a jolt to the senses, I knew I would need time to decompress, if I hadn't closed that door for a time I would have sat on the fence with one foot in each country unable to embrace what was in front of me.

I see it often in Vietnam, that dazed look in a new expats eyes, wondering where they are going, how they will cope and steady themselves for the new experiences ahead of them. I want to tell them it's a matter of doors and windows. You have to know when to shut and open them until you set yourself right.

As for me, the doors are open, the windows are up and I am once again moving through my expat world with greater ease. I know, because it brought me here, to the house below. I would pass it nearly every day on my bike ride into the local village. Every once in a while, just before I turned the corner from our street, I would slow down...stop..and snap a photo. I captured it in all seasons, my favorite being summer and winter.

My view today is very different as I ramble along the streets of Saigon but I feel so very fortunate to have had those days where I imagined the life beyond the garden, the windows and doors that graced this beautiful home. I still wonder...but from further afar...and am so very thankful for the time we had in England.

A passing view in Surrey, England...

From snowy Surrey to our mango coloured home in Saigon, 
Chateau Mango..

 where my English Pashley awaits.

Sending you 'beep, beeps' from Saigon.

until I return with another English memory.

23 September 2013

A Bloomsbury pause....

I read a passage in a book and smiled....

I was born at 46 Gordon Square, Bloomsbury. 
The doors of No. 45, No. 47, 
and indeed of all the other houses in the square, 
were black, or if not black, dark grey or a funereal blue. 
The door of No. 46 was a startling bright vermilion. 
The colour had been chosen by my mother, Vanessa; 
she also decorated the interior of the house, 
making use of equally startling colours. 
My father, Clive Bell, was in those days a left-wing radical. 
From an early age I knew that we were odd.  

Written by Quentin Bell 
author of  'Elders and Betters'

His words reminded me
of a bright vermillion door I captured in London...
and I smiled again.

Seeing vermillion in Pimlico.

Vanessa was the mother to Quentin Bell
and the woman behind 
the 'startling bright vermillion' door in Bloomsbury.

Vanessa Bell was the elder sister to Virginal Woolf
and part of the avant-garde Bloomsbury Group. 
A Britsish painter and interior designer, she is best known for
her work at Charleston in Sussex where
she lived with the artist Duncan Grant. Vanessa was married
to Clive Bell with whom she had two children, Julian and Quentin.
As in all the relationships with the Bloomsbury Group...it was complicted.
You can read more about Vanessa Bell here

Self Portrait
By Vanessa Bell

Do not miss this wonderful collection
of paintings by Vanessa Bell,
with a touch of vermillion
and a fantastic jazz beat.
A must see...

Dahlias and Canterbury Bells
By Vanessa Bell

The paragraph above took me in the most interesting direction.
I am loving the journey with still a ways to go...

More on Charleston here

21 September 2013

Poets Corner: William and Dorothy Wordsworth

One of my favourite spots in the English Lakes District 
is  Grasmere in Cumbria.
The photos here were taken around Dove Cottage
home for several years to William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. 
They both wrote about life in and around
 this quintessential English village.
I highly recommend a visit..if only to step back in time.

William Wordsworth...

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o'er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze

Dorothy Wordsworth...

When we were in the woods beyond
Gowbarrow Park we saw a few daffodils 
close to the water-side...as we went along 
there were more and yet more.
I never saw daffodils so beautiful
.they looked so gay, ever glancing,
ever changing. The wind blew
directly over the lake to them.

images~ J. Henriques

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