Like many young English girls over the past eighty years, Nancy Mitford’s Love in A Cold Climate was a defining novel of my youth. This week the last remaining Mitford sister Debo’s funeral occurred so I thought that I would quickly share one of my favourite Mitford scenes on the blog. This is a snapshot from the pub Debo owned in Oxfordshire, The Swan Inn. A few years ago I visited the house where the Mitford’s grew up as a part of an open garden scheme and stopped for lunch at the pub Debo owns a stones throwaway from the house in Burford. It is a comfortable old inn, a million miles away from the splendour of Chatsworth House that Debo would call home as the Duchess of Devonshire and is crammed full of paraphernalia of the Mitford family history saga. We had lunch by the fireplace which was adorned with these family portraits of all the sisters in their youth, from the communist to the fascist, the Mitford’s represented an astonishing curio of inter-war aristocratic life with all its pain and eccentricities.
So things have been quiet for a very long while whilst I’ve been growing a baby! 15 weeks in I am finally starting to feel more myself so I thought I’d share some snaps from our recent trip to Istanbul. It’s a place that’s been on our list for years and it is truly stunning and otherworldly. It fed my tile and fabric obsessions to beyond brimming and I have come home wide eyed from a smorgasbord of texture and colour.
I wasn’t sure that this trip was entirely feasible, I mean 48 hours in a place as beautiful and magical as Venice, how was it going to feel anything other than having your candy floss snatched at the fair just as you go to take your first bite? But it’s January, and we have plugged all our money into the house for so long that we’ve forgotten to take a holiday for a few years, so we decided to beat the January blues and impetuously booked a short city break to Venice. We packed the Wallpaper guide and not much else, letting our noses guide us down the winding roads. I had some vague plans, things I’d seen on the recent Nigella series, narrow passageways so beautifully evoked in classic novels and ghost stories, even the Brideshead trip to the Lido, but nothing prepared me for just how utterly seductive this city is. I should say that we married in Italy and have been on many holidays here but somehow never quite got to Venice, I’m so glad we finally did.In fact it turns out 48 hours is perfectly feasible, don’t get me wrong I could have stayed for months, but when you go out of season you have the city virtually to yourselves and I suspect you get a better feel of the place and it’s inhabitants now than you would over a week in the summer.
There is currently quite a cool exhibition running til 7 December at London’s Guildhall which celebrates the impact of Victoriana, curating the work of modern artists from Grayson Perry to the The Chapman Brothers and incorporating design houses like Timorous Beasties and trends such as steam-punk. On show are ceramics, taxidermy, print design, photography, graphic design and the most spectacular moths zoetrope by Mat Collishaw (find the video I took of which at the end of this post).Read More