Monday, 31 March 2008


I really enjoyed this, although there was very little sexual chemistry between Depp and Morton the overall look of the film was dark and very beautiful.

I took this out on a whim having enjoyed various re runs of Sharpe on the History Chanel. It is a whopping 6 hours of viewing, but even though it is 10 years old it looks fantastic and is gripping stuff (since I have not read the book) the one big irritation is the music which is almost unbearable and twice as loud as the dialogue. I have now borrowed the book from the library to read over the Easter break.

As an antidote to the grim film Elizabeth the Golden Years, I watched this. It is just fantastic and proves you can make a gripping film based on fact, not whimsical rewrites of history.


One for the weekend, I read a really good interview with Hodgkin recently, the humility he displayed draws me to his work, even more than usual. So I shall have to brave those horrible frosty receptionists and go on Saturday.


The papers have yielded a range of interesting reflections this week starting with Graydon Carter in the Guardian Q&A my two favourite responses were
What do you owe your parents?
They taught me how to be happy. Sounds simple, but it's a real gift.

I really hope this is something that my daughters have learnt.
What is your favourite smell?
My daughter's head.

How lovely is this reply, although by the time they hit their teens the smell can sometimes not be so fragrant!
Another article here by Lucy Mangan,where she bemoans the disneyfication of Enid Blytons Famous Five. I have just finished reading Leyla The Magic Faraway Tree and I am not sure who enjoyed it more!
And finally I have not read this column by Liz Jones for a few weeks but the sentiment of this one rang very true for me, many months ago I wrote about having to suppress the desire to have a house that looks ever ready for its Elle Deco photo shoot and instead use the house to live in. Miss Jones should have tried living with Emin he could break the spirit of any OCD tidy freak I know. With me I think it was for the best, Emin's argument has always been that love and companionship was more important than clean and tidy!
To help me through the pain of living in chaos I always reflect on my Gran's house which was always very chaotic, every cupboard was filled with junk as was every shelf and draw you opened, but it was always a warm and welcoming environment, where as her sister lived in a house so clean you were always too scared to put a mug down or ever kick back and relax, so although I love it tidy, I have learnt to live with it. Having said that E leaves for Cyprus on Wednesday so the house will get a thorough spring clean before he returns, it deserves it once a year.

Saturday, 29 March 2008

There are no prizes for coming second

I had an interview for a job on Friday, I spent all day Thursday putting various pieces of work together to talk about and mentally got my self ready. I ended up wearing a new skirt I had bought from H&M a few weeks ago, it was dark green, double breasted, high waisted which meant all my cardigans were too long, so in the end I found an old short frilled black fronted top that looked good and felt good too. There were four women and one man, three of the women had pony tails so I got that bit right, but they ALL wore the dreaded jacket, so may be I should invest. I did feel unnerved when the Executive Head Of Faculty walked in and told me she knew me from my previous job, first as a teacher and then as a colleague, I could not for the life of me place her, although we are talking nearly twenty years ago. The woman who walked into the room was wearing a tightly cut pencil skirt, matching jacket with a large fur trimmed collar sans anything underneath, high heeled boots, a Mrs Beckham bob and long french manicured nails. She was slim with a wide Audrey Hepburn jaw, the best adjective is vamp and this is in a boys school! Interestingly despite the outwardly cool self assured exterior her body language was slightly more highly strung, brittle even. She played with her nails constantly, a habit I dislike, she also kept twisting her hand around her wrist as if to give her self a Chinese burn. Later despite not having seen me for many years she managed to give me her life story, which was amazing because it now began to dawn on me that when I knew her she was a rosy cheeked frizzy haired plain little dumpling of a dance teacher. She said she had, after a couple of years realised that she was going nowhere in England so got herself a job in an international school in Geneva teaching diplomats children returning seven years later to take an M.A in Drama, and so completing a transformation of Sabrinaesque proportions. So it was unnerving to imagine her as my online manager, but still the job looked good. The interview went well but when things are going well I have a tendency to gush. If you have ever seen that old Steve Martin film L.A Story I turn into the S.J. P character, its painful, the woman who got the job was so much more serene and calm and I suspect a little less gushing. So at 7.30pm I was told I was good but I came second.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Happy Birthday Leyla

It was seven years ago today that Lelya bounced into this world, I say bounced because she weighed a whopping 10lbs and 10oz. Ouch, but do you know what girls? not a so much as a stitch needed! She took less than an hour to arrive and was delivered by 2 wonderful paramedics on my bedroom floor using the mirror on my wardrobe. She maybe beautiful but I promise you she is a real handful.
These days children do not have Birthday's they have Birthday weeks, Leyla's started with a family day out at Kew last week, today is the cake and candles ceremony, tomorrow I am taking her to St Martin-in-the-Fields to hear this, preceded by a bite to eat. On Saturday her Auntie will take her out to see a film and have a Birthday tea and then finally on Wednesday she is off to Cyprus for 10 days then flying back via Istanbul! Seriously can you believe it? and all I ever got was pass the parcel, musical chairs and a birthday tea for a few friends, kids of today do not know how lucky they are!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008


See the clothes here but its this photograph I particularly like, I have a real 'thing' for view seen through glass.


I have always loved the work of Julie Arkell, it looks so simple but try and make something similar and you realise just how complex the pieces are.

John Dilnot

Erin Originals. I have seen these in the V&A shop they are lovely and take me back to when I first started teaching traditional sewing

This shop in Whitstable looks lovely, a place to spend spend spend. Whitstable is really beautiful they have some fabulous fish restaurants. The last time I was here my mother left her handbag on the sea wall we had walked for 20 Min's before she realised I ran back and it was still there that's how lovely it is there.

John Eaves

This is a gentle reminder to myself to pull my finger out and get some more painting done.
Teachers have periods of time in their life when its hard to know which way to turn, I have 4 days of GCSE exams over the next week, at the same time the very narrow window of job opportunity is now open. Although I am not desperate to leave this job there are many low level irritants that lead me to search for other jobs, the criteria is hamstrung by having to work in close proximity to where I live. If I have to drive to work the job would need to be extra special for example, a girls private school, but then being Art the field is so competitive that it would be a miracle to get one of these posts but I keep trying.
Applying can become a full time occupation in itself, luckily my wonderful Human Resources sister has set me up with a brilliant C.V and the bones of a good letter to adapt, so every now and again I apply and occasionally get an interview which is where I will be on Friday. There is no set pro forma for interviewing teachers, some schools ask you to teach a lesson and then have a formal interview, some schools ask for a power point presentation, some schools ask to see work you have taught and a folio of your own work, some want all of this.
Fridays interview is unusual as they only want you to have one formal interview but I suspect they will be less formal questions fired over lunch and via a tour of the school. Interviews like these are the trickiest because you have nothing but words to offer and yet Art is such a visual subject it is hard to go in without the traditional crutches. I am always pragmatic, I try very hard to rationalise rejection so I am not too disappointed. Fidays down side is that it is a boys school with girls arriving in the sixth form. Luckily in the last 3 years I have only really really wanted one job after the interview and they were so nice and apologetic it eased the pain of disappointment considerably.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Happy Easter

Oh, for my macro lens.
P.S Happy Easter, I cooked a delicious lamb roast but the family celebration ie chocolate binge is postponed until we all meet in Wales at the end of April, my mother had obviously been listening to Radio 4 today because she announced Easter had not been this early for 85 years, but that still makes the snow that greeted me this morning a bit of a surprise.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Where in the world

For as long as I live and breathe a more beautiful place would be hard to find.

Good Friday

Moore at Kew Gardens. A cold winters day, Daisy is drawing in the Princess of Wales green house, Leyla and Kitty are brawling through the rest of the garden, whilst my mother my sister and I brace our frozen bodies against the wind but the light is so beautiful.

The mood from here

has not been good.
Assessment's for me, deadlines for Daisy, a stolen purse and phone for Kitty, a constant inability to please a Father for Leyla, I sat in the living room last week and reflected that it still looks like we have just moved in after over 18 months, I know a lot of teachers who work part time and I can see why, I reflect on how much I could get done in that elusive day but it is not to be and the constant slog goes on. Lets not forget however. the endless holidays. instead of gallivanting across Europe I should maybe stay at home and make a home instead.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


I have just finished this book. It is short but brilliantly written.

I am now re-reading this, I bought it after a rather strained visit to the deep south of France. It answers so many of those puzzling "why do they do that?" questions, as well as giving you enough good advice to make any visit considerably smoother.
I am now on the hunt for Paris A Secret History by Andrew Hussey and The Seven Ages of Paris by Alistair Horne.

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Elizabeth the golden age

Visually stunning, but the script and direction is appalling a real disappointment.

Amazing Rare Things

These two prints are by Maria Sibylla Merian from here
The colours when you see them in the exhibition are so rich and vibrant, very very beautiful

The exhibition is worth the price of admission alone to see these incredible Leonardo Da Vinci drawings. what I have never appreciated before is how detailed they are and how small they are. I have worked with students looking at a facsimile of one of his drawings A3 size, but in the exhibition the drawing is barely 3X4 inches, its tiny.

Leyla was very keen on the metamorphosis paintings.

I loved the colours in these fish paintings. images from here
We went Saturday afternoon as Daisy is doing a project on flowers. she stood and did some drawings whilst I entertained Leyla. The Queens Gallery is a beautiful place, once you have seen the exhibition you can wander round the permanent collection which includes beautiful Caravaggio's, Canaletto's and Rembrandt as well as some rather ginky jewellery and ceramics.
I could have sat at the Canaletto for ages, it is of a view of the Thames painted from Somerset house looking down towards Wrens newly built St Paul's. All you can see for miles are the spires of all the churches he built after the great fire of London. Now only a handful are left, I had always assumed that many were destroyed during the second world war but unbelievably they were knocked down by over zealous Victorian developers who were more brutal than the corrupt idiot town planners of the Sixties.

Monday, 17 March 2008

Amanda Christensen

I have one of these.

Now I want one of these from here.

Eric Rimmington

Beautiful textures and tones, from here.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Eric Jaquier

Eric’s images show a microcosm of British working-class life in the late 60s –children playing makeshift games in the streets; housewives hanging out white linen across the street; and advertising signs hung above corner shops recalling a more innocent era of consumerism. on show here
I moved to Leeds in 1970, only instead of the grim inner city it was to a small rural village on the outskirts with fields as far as you can see, you do not have to travel far out of Leeds to be in some of the most beautiful countryside in the world.
Someone once said that a child should should be bored for at least an hour a day. I agree, it slows the pace and gives time to reflect and use their imagination.
The overriding sensation from these photographs is the complete calm the absolute sound of silence, they are absolutely wonderful, and you should go to his website here.
We would drive very close to this area on our way into the City centre, although we lived in the country my father was born and raised in just such a community on the outskirts of Nottingham, called Forest Fields. Not one blade of grass was visible for miles ,the horrible irony of the name never ceased to amaze me. My father was lucky he clawed his way out to Cambridge and he never looked back.

Toast V Nike

On Wednesday I was looking at my EBay wish list pontificating as to whether to bid on a pair of wool trousers from Toast BNWT, I am a reluctant purchaser of trousers on EBay as they so often disappoint and rarely fit, in fact winter trousers, because they are so much more structured are hard to find full stop sale or full price. I am very fussy about the style which has to be Katherine Hepburn wide, and fabric which has to be light wool so they hang nicely. My mother walks past Toast everyday and has picked up some bargains since they opened, I have admired the fabrics and cut but baulk at paying £120+ for trousers. But as I mentioned earlier I have so few winter trousers I need to top them up or live in skirts all next winter (summer trousers I have in abundance loose linen seems to be easy to find)
So on my wish list was a pair of charcoal stripe wool turn up trousers, beautiful but £25 starting price which added to P&P came to nearly £30. I do not know why but this felt like a lot of money when in reality it is not, a pair of bog standard jeans in M&S goes for £40 so why was I hesitating, If I saw them in a shop I would not hesitate to try them on so finally I made the plunge thinking if they were duds I could sell them on. I bid. I won. I am wearing them today! They are just beautiful. Mrs Fashion was right all Art teachers should wear Toast.
That same day I had been given a missive by kitty to buy her a grey track suit specifically with an elasticated ankle for her dance show, she asked me Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, assuming the show was imminent my choice of retail places were Matalan Asda Primark or JD sports. I walked into Matalan with every digit crossed but nothing was the right size, colour or style, the thought of her moaning sent me over to the dark side and in to JD sports. I looked at some adult one which appeared eye wateringly expensive then spied some children’s ones. after 15 mins wondering what bloody size to get I settled for bottoms aged 11-12 and a top aged 5-6! the cost? 42 bloody pounds for a bit of cotton sewn by half blind children in an illegal sweatshop for 50p a day. I was speechless, but back at home she was over the moon, it fitted and was the right shade of grey and most importantly was soooo comfortable she never wants to take it off. Daisy raised an arched eyebrow and called her a Chav, I later enquired when the dance show was? “oh not until sometime in May” “MAY” I calmly explained that she had been so persistent that I assumed the show was next week “oh was I? Sorry” she hasn’t taken the hideous thing off, so by May it will be worn out and she will need another one.
So I reflected what a skewed view I have of the value of clothes that I will wince at £25 for a pair of beautiful wool trousers from Toast but on the same day pay £40 for a piece of glorified tat.

They are back

My sister appears to have survived her sojourn to New York with my mother; in fact my mother appears to have survived relatively unscathed as well. This was their first proper trip together sans the rest of the family, I am hamstrung by always having to take holidays during term time, the busiest and most expensive time to go anywhere so Mum’s wallet always takes a bashing when she holidays with me plus my kids unashamedly bleed her dry. So Lucy has picked up the baton and on top of the recent trip will also be spending 4 weeks in Australia with her over Christmas but heavily diluted by various Uncles and Cousins of course.
From my conversation with Lucy she (my sister) appears to have upheld the English tradition for being the rudest people on the planet, giving shop assistants short shrift over the prices charged. The English press must be subsidised by the New York tourist board because not a day goes by when they are not harping on at how many bargains are to be had in America. Well Lucy is putting everyone straight on that one and returned empty handed but full of belly!

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Natures best


How brilliant is this, I would love this next to my bed.
From here.

Paul Smith

Just beautiful shapes and I love the combination of rich colours.

A sort of Geological mille feuille.

My favourite of all the English shows is this, Paul Smith clothes may lack the Kapow factor but they are all very wearable and I always covet them.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Elaine Megahey

Beautiful prints from here

The sound of my name

I did have a chuckle when I read this by Emine Saner. As a child I would always wince when anyone read my name from a register. No one could EVER pronounce my surname correctly, of course what I should have said is it rhymes with bed but I wasn't that bright back then. I can promise Miss Saner the English can butcher most cultures names even their own, if they find it easy to pronounce then they will then shorten it, at school I have heard Daisy called Days! Kitty always gets called Kit. The English don't stop at mispronouncing every ones names either, just wait until they get to the register office and try to spell it, where I teach, a simple name such as Amy has become Aimee, Abigail has become Abbeygale and so on.
Most students who arrive from Asia are so shocked at the way we masticate the vowels in their name, they actually assume a simple English name instead or shorten their existing name to something more tolerable to the ear when being called out. The poor Sri Lanken girls suffer the most, have a go at Sathurthika Kulanthaivadivel, Jornazzaman (please miss call me Jorna) Chowdhury or Prubhjote Saini.
When I chose Leyla's name I knew I was walking into a minefield of difficult pronunciation, Turkish people pronounce many words using their tongue placed in the middle of their mouth whereas the English have their tongue stuck into their teeth, we do love the letter T. Strangely they manage to squeeze an extra syllable into my first name pronouncing it A Li Son.
In the Turkish alphabet C = an English soft J ie; Cansil sounds like jansil, so I knew it was not going to be easy. I managed to find a book of names and give Emin a list from which I had to read, any I struggled with we discarded, his choice was Fatma, but that is not a very nice sounding name so I prayed one name would tickle his fancy and luckily Leyla was it. The English tend to say "Lay Lah" when it should be a "Leigh luh" but its still a lovely name. surprisingly he did not fancy Emine the feminine version of his name.

Polaroid R.I.P

This is me in my fathers office taken on traditional Polaroid film, which because it was fixed separately never faded.

As a child have various memories attached to my father, travelling across Europe in Land rovers, using reel to reel tape recorders, and Polaroid film. This article in the Guardian recently brought memories flooding back especially this part.
The special smelly, sticky film that made scenes and faces appear magically in your palm - or, in lower temperatures, under your armpit -
The Polaroid film my father used required this and that's the vivid picture I have, of jumping up and down impatiently whilst he counted to 60 holding the film under his armpit. Then the excitement at seeing the picture reveal itself, mostly of me of course and the the special sponge impregnated with fixative that had to be wiped over the image to preserve it.
It is a shame that Polaroid film is now no longer used, but I can not mourn its demise because digital photography has given so many more people the Chance to access photography, I'm just glad of the memory.

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Classic Cafes

I love greasy spoon cafes and always seek them out if I am hungry. This web site is a real treat.
I hit the Gym this weekend and after both sessions undid the good work with a bacon and fried tomato sandwich! washed down with milky coffee just heaven!

Carole P Kunstadt

From her web site here

and a gallery here
Very beautiful collages from Carole P Kunstadt, I wish I could find more images.