Monday, 30 August 2010


I have to admit to being the teensiest bit jealous when my friend up in Scotland told me she'd recently acquired a rather ramshackle yet gorgeous little caravan for £100. She and her husband are planning to put it on their farm and convert it into a cosy retreat with wood-burning stove and warm blankets, which will be most necessary when the North wind blows! I would love to find a caravan myself - and have long had my eye on acquiring a vintage Citroen H van - but sadly they're way beyond my budget at the moment. I did once see the most fabulous H van in London's Spittlefields market. It's owned by Emily Chalmers whose shop Caravan is a real treat. She's got such a great eye, and funnily enough has a little caravan on her front page at the moment!


Well I have just signed on again after a bit of a summer break. I finished writing my book and headed to Edinburgh for a few days R+R at the Festival. What a great atmosphere. A real buzz in the air. I enjoyed a couple of interesting book talks - in particular one by Norman Drummond about his new book The Power of Three.  He offered many thought-provoking questions about purpose and service. It's some time since someone made me stop in my tracks like that. We're surrounded by so much noise it's difficult to hear. We can get so disconnected from things that matter and from what our true purpose is.

My small purpose last night was to make dinner for a couple of friends. I felt very inspired after seeing an excellent BBC1 programme earlier this week about how much food we waste in the UK. Perfectly good food chucked in the bins by us, the supermarkets and the farmers, either because it's passed its corporate-imposed sell-by date, or because it's deemed not perfect enough for our tastes. The programme featured top chefs rummaging in bins and rescuing doomed food for tasty creative purposes. It made me think about how I should appreciate the food I eat more and stop wasting it. My first impulse was to hold a little dinner party consisting of food we'd grown ourselves, but since my friend's allotment had succumbed to drought, I wasn't able to do that. So instead I made my own bread and used market-bought tomatoes to make bruschetta for the starter. That was followed by mushroom risotto, with the mushrooms from the local farmers' market and a salad made from lettuces I'd grown in the pots on my balcony.  The thing I'm most proud of though was my homemade plum ice-cream using plums from my neighbour's garden. I don't have an ice-cream maker so I did it the old-fashioned way beating the mixture two or three times during the freezing process. Boy were the results good! Having being scared off making my own ice-cream for years due to lack of gizmos, it was actually suprisingly easy. I have to admit rather shamefacedly however to being rescued by Tesco. I bought the first batch of cream from the farmers' market - organic rich gorgeousness, that was so solid, it completely separated on whisking. My virgin ice-cream attempt hanging in the balance, I ran up the road to Tesco for a pot of standard double cream so that I could continue. It worked a treat. That'll teach me to be holier-than-thou I thought! I'd love to attach a picture of my ice-cream, but we ate it all. So instead I'm attaching a picture of some beautiful rose-hips that my friend gave me when she arrived for dinner. I think they look lovely in this little empty yeast can.

Sunday, 1 August 2010


I had a brilliant time last week running my first Fabulous Fabrications workshop at the Kensington and Chelsea College in London. It was a great creative group, one came all the way from Milan! They all really "got it" and made some lovely things. I tried to inspire them with my ideas and designs for decorative collars, floral brooches, T-shirt hats, and my new Brogue shoe makeover. They are all stunning accessories, which I've designed to be super-straightforward to make, but really pack a punch with the results. I'm pleased to say they thoroughly enjoyed the workshop too - and I'm hoping it will be the springboard to other similar sessions. I just need a permanent venue! Any suggestions? Moreover it was a great chance for me to try out some of the projects from my new book CHIC ON A SHOESTRING which will be published in Spring by Kyle Cathie. I've kept it quiet till now - but yes - if all goes to plan, you'll be able to join in too. I'll keep you updated!