Saturday 29 April 2023

Nipped in quickly this afternoon to catch this small, but very good exhibition of highly covetable artists' textiles in lovely, sunny galleries overlooking the chimneytops of Kensington. (And there's a gorgeous cafe that I'm planning to adopt instead of the over-crowded V&A caff.) After the excellent Zoom talk yesterday by Persephone's Nicola Beauman, I got the wrong end of the stick and thought it was an exhibition of Persephone endpaper textiles; it isn't - but it's still very good. I don't wear scarves, but this silk scarf by Patrick Heron was my favourite thing in the show.
What I know about North Korea could be written on a stamp, but I've been completely engrossed by this fascinating book based on interviews with defectors, weaving together the stories of six ordinary people's lives in the grip of (shockingly recent) famine, under a regime that had at least one informer for every 50 citizens; more even than East Germany's Stasi. The young lovers who meet in darkness, too fearful even to confide in each other about their growing doubts - the kindergarten teacher who sees her little pupils starving to death - the mothers struggling to feed their families on foraged grass and corn husks, but still dutifully dusting the obligatory portrait of 'Our Dear Leader' - the loyal doctor's stunned realisation that in neighbouring China, even the dogs eat better. 5* recommendation for one of the best books I've read this year.

Tuesday 25 April 2023

I do love this moment when the lilac blossoms in London - my favourite scent, especially after rain. But I was quite taken aback at Chelsea Physic Garden on Saturday to come across a bush absolutely laden with these crimson roses ... I know it's sheltered there, but roses in April! It doesn't seem right!

Friday 14 April 2023

I always enjoy Emily Patrick's exhibitions - and wish I could buy something - and this afternoon's visit felt like a breath of the spring that we ought to be having instead of this cold, icy rain. This painting is called Gentle Light on Windowsill ... which had me pondering about how the artist's eye finds beauty in the mundane - because it's actually the top of the cistern in the artist's cloakroom. Guess Top of the Cistern doesn't really hack it as a title!

Friday 7 April 2023

This was fun and colourful last night, a jolly start to an Easter weekend. It's about a former career woman living her 1950s housewife fantasy - and I had to laugh when this Persephone book got a mention. I am a sucker for Flylady schemes that I feel sure will transform my life and am perfectly capable of sticking with them for ooh, at least two days. In the interests of ignoring the mess on my desk, I have been browsing Kay Smallshaw's 1915 book You and Your Home - and actually, she was way ahead of her time. It has sections on divorce and separation, piloting an aeroplane (!)as well as furnishing your house for £200 (if only!)and points of etiquette ... who knew that curry should be served for luncheon only and eaten with a dessert spoon and fork - so a chicken jalfrezi on the way home from the pub is just rude.