Tag Archives: Nancy Mitford

June things

The rain is pouring down and I am happy to be inside sipping a cup of coffee after getting wet earlier today. There are many exciting things I have been enjoying in the last couple of weeks:

first crops from our garden: mizuna, rocket and spinach, sadly the rain makes slugs eat everything and all my courgette and patty pan plants are almost gone!

continuing the healthy eating/detoxing lark with a small dose of cake

good coffee and home made sourdough

visiting Petersham on warm and cold days, the boy loves their cakes

catching up with these three lovely ladies, what a great afternoon!

visiting three gardens yesterday (more soon) as part of the NGS open days, and planning more visits

discovering film crew on the Common and spotting the following names on trailers (heart racing): Charles Dickens!, Mrs Ternan, Nelly – The Invisible Woman, a new BBC production about Dickens’ lover starring Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas

upon further research discovering that the film is shot in Southside House, a wonderful stately home near me that has reopened to public and I will be visiting very very soon

at last read Cold Comfort Farm which instantly became one of my top favorite books, followed by Conference at Cold Comfort Farm – not as great but still pretty funny, I will be starting Christmas at Cold Comfort Farm soon. I can be very obsessive so needless to say I also watched the very good BBC adaptation

being a big fan of Nancy Mitford I squeezed in Love in a Cold Climate with Rosamund Pike as Fanny – brilliantly adapted two great novels, this mini series combines the above title with Pursuit of Love

I am fearing the last episode of Mad Men series 5, I might have to re-watch it from the beginning, or go back to The Wire or Six Feet Under

watching Girls which is realistically brilliant

really looking forward to this cookbook by the wonderful Katie Quinn Davies

I spent a fab afternoon at V&A visiting the Ballgowns exhibition and fell head over heels in this Vivienne Westwood dress (reminded me of Miss Havisham), I was also very happy to see Lady Diana’s Elvis dress

The month has just started and it’s looking very busy indeed!

Spring, Lucien, Nancy but no David

What a wonderful springy few days we have had! I loved basking in the sun, letting the boy run in the park and getting our garden ready for the planting season.A lot of herbs and flowers came out of the greenhouse and the greenhouse itself got cleaned and organised and it is my little planting haven.

We had a visitor and went to see Lucien Freud at The National Portrait Gallery which was breathtaking, seeing those amazing canvases close up is such an amazing experience, the brushstrokes, the poses, the expressions. A truly remarkable body of work. It’s very hard to get tickets at this point so the best bet is to be there at 10.00am otherwise the queue is 2-3h long.

We were supposed to go and see David Hockney too but my friend with the tickets got ill and had to stay at home, we enjoyed a very long lunch at Café Boheme so wouldn’t make it anyway and one big exhibition was enough for the boy.

I have been disgustingly indulging in Nancy Mitford. Pursuit of Love, The Blessing (beyond hilarious!) and Madame de Pompadour. The woman can write so well and her social observations are excellent. The Dior and tweed-clad heroins and their love lives are very gripping but I was really impressed what a great biographer she is. Madame de Pompadour is a very addictive read full of anecdotes and vibrant descriptions. I also have Don’t Tell Alfred waiting by my bedside – a paper version was half the price of Kindle mmmm…..

I haven’t been baking a lot but I did make some brownies topped with pecans and crystallised ginger.

In techy/social media sort of news I am on Pinterest, totally loving it. A massive addiction!

Scraps of last week

I’ve been neglecting this blog, I know. But I have been so busy the past week I don’t even know where did it go!

I am working this weekend preparing for a shoot so here are few things I have been up to in between phone calls and meetings:

Admired cakes in China Town

Finished Nancy Mitford’s Wigs on the Green which made me hoot with laughter.

Started Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell and I am absolutely loving it, trying to get some reading done when I can. This novel is brilliant and I have never seen the TV adaptation so it’s a total surprise too.

Started to watch Sopranos, I know I am few years late but I have been saving it for later. And I think later came at last. I have to ration myself to one episode at a time otherwise it would turn in a marathon.

Had my first ice cream of the season, salted caramel and hazelnut from Amorino in Old Compton Street which was a disappointment. The ice cream was milky not creamy and they make a silly rose instead of a scoop that melts from every imaginable side and is hard to handle. I am a gelato traditionalist I’m afraid.

Had a lunch at Kaffeine in Great Titchfield Street, one of my favourite places in Noho. They make amazing paninis and cakes, the atmosphere is very laid back and the staff are lovely. They also have a bench outside, perfect for soaking up the sun.

Tea and cakes at Maison Bertaux, a total sugar overload!

Dinner at Barrafina, I can’t get over their razor clams, a simple green salad with the best dressing ever and some runny egg tortillas. This place is excellent.

I have been up and down London including Kentish Town City Farm begging for some props, probably visited 8 charity shops today, got harassed in a pound shop first thing this morning and fought my way through grannies with trolleys on various south London high streets.

Oh, it’s great to be back here. Off to enjoy the weather and a pint in Hoxton. Have a lovely weekend!

Stuck somewhere between winter and spring

I woke up to a rather grey Saturday morning. The sun is still a bit shy but it is definitely getting milder outside. Snowdrops and crocuses are everywhere making the dull wet grounds colorful and the daffodils are nearly in bloom.

I got a lovely parcel from my friend in Amsterdam – a box of Easter eggs. The Dutch Easter eggs are especially nice, hopefully they will survive the next 3 weeks.

The worst thing about this part of the year is lack of good fruit and vegetables. I am so fed up with all the roots, cauliflowers, cabbages and apples that lost their sweetness. It is still some time before we have all the lovely spring peas, chives, radishes and strawberries.  I decided to re-subscribe to Abel&Cole and my first seasonal box is arriving on Friday, hopefully this will stimulate my imagination as they often have things I am not even able to find at my local farmers market.

Last week I got some Jerusalem artichokes and decided to make a warm salad.

The artichokes were roasted for 45 minutes at 180°C with thyme, bay leaf, olive oil and some salt. In a separate tray I roasted some hazelnuts for 10 minutes to make the bitter skins fall off. The artichokes and hazelnuts were combined with rocket, fennel and vinaigrette dressing. I suppose there is still a tiny small room to get creative.

And of course we baked bread again, this one was spectacular, the best one so far. It’s so important to keep going and experimenting, making mistakes is a part of the learning process after all. We made 2 large sourdough loaves, I think our work colleagues will be sampling it on Monday.

The bread was slightly moist, chewy and full of big air bubbles, the nutty flavor was there and the crust was superb. Long proofing time is really the way to do it.

I truly don’t think we will go back to buying bread ever again. Baking is a very enjoyable process and I love feeding the starter, it is like my pet. I had a bit of a comedy moment this morning when the starter fermented so much it popped the tupperwear lid up and spilled out of its container. It is a living creature.

Today is the first proper spring day, the sun is shining and I could feel its warmth on my face. In our bid to discover as much of South West London as possible we cycled down to Tooting Bec Common.

It’s a fantastic common with large green spaces and little bits of wild, lots of brambles and gorse, duck ponds, an outdoor café and the wonderful lido.

When I walked in and saw colorful changing rooms and a blue sheet of water reflecting the sunshine I was speechless.

Dating back to 1906 when it first opened it is the 3rd largest lido in Europe, the largest in England, open to members every single day of the year and to the public from the 24th of May till the end of September. I will be sure to go this year.

I used to go to an open air swimming pool in Amsterdam every week, it didn’t matter if it was cold or rainy, once I was in the water it felt wonderful.

Back at home I am having a fantastic Gaskell time. Two exciting books just hit the shelves: David Eggers’ Zeitoun and Nancy Mitford’s Wigs on the Green. The latter has landed in my mail box already.

Somehow my book pile has managed to grow again and as work is busy (animating dog food and shooting commercial with UK’s favorite pop princess) I don’t get that much time to read. Better get back to it!