Thursday, 20 March 2014


The Birds Nest by Emile Vernon
Spring has come. Birds are nesting and bulbs are blooming again. The Snow Queen did not visit us this Winter in our little village perched atop the borders of Berkshire / Wiltshire but our hearts were cold having lost our beloved cat Isabella in the Autumn. 

Love Never Dies - Isabella Elizabeth

Most of England had lots of water and howling wind. Yet overall it was a mild season. We were so much luckier than friends down in the valley, and in Somerset where the floods enveloped their homes and they lost everything. The great beauty of Nature is awe inspiring but sometimes she can be cruel.

Nearby cottages where the river flooded
We will always miss Isabella, gone too young, so naughty, under our feet, on our papers, and into everything but our hearts are slowly beginning to feel warm once more. We have neglected life and now have work to do. Spring and Nature will inspire us. 

The Snowdrops were exquisite this year. 

The cheeky Jackdaws are back on the church tower. 
Mrs Black loves her vintage shawls.

The lodger Munchkin L'Strange
Mrs Black is getting old and the loss of her dearest kitten Isabella was hard for her to bear but Spring is her favourite season. When she is not sleeping snuggled up in her shawls Mrs Black is outside again, minding her tenants, the Mice who live underneath my studio. She is also engaged in discussions of living and dinner arrangements with her other lodger, Munchkin L'Strange, a distant relative of the Black family and one who reverted to the French spelling of his surname after all the trouble his cousin Bellatrix caused.

Woodland scenes are so uplifting and the woods near us are now filled with bluebells.

Detail from Ophelia, Jules Joseph  Lefebre (1836-1911)
Enchanting woodland China lifts the spirits.
There is nothing like the scent of English Bluebells.
This is a Shelley bone china Woodland trio, from ebay

This sugar bowl is Aynsley bone china. 

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

CREATIVE PEOPLE - Hanah Redden, Little Burrow Designs and White Bird Paperwork

Today I am sharing a 'Creative People' post as I would like to highlight the work of three talented people I have the pleasure of having come across.  

I recently had the good fortune to win a lavender sachet in a facebook giveaway on the page of English textile artist HANNAH REDDEN.

I Won!!!!!

It was such a nice surprise to win something, and when the little package arrived in my post so beautifully wrapped and presented I was thrilled. It smells divine, is very high quality craftsmanship with lovely little details and I recommend her work!

Lavender sachet by Hannah Redden

This is what Hannah says about herself. "Since my early years I've been surrounded by fabric, threads, paper, and paint of my creative family.

Being so passionate about about textile related creativity pushed me to complete my BA Hons in Textile Design in 2005, specialising in Printed Textiles from the Glasgow School of Art. This course provided strong design training as well as the skills in print necessary to design and create interior furnishings.

I gather inspiration from my surroundings, at the moment I am particularly drawn to all things British and vintage. Combining this interest with a fascination for repeating patterns and manipulation of scale and colour I produce bespoke and unique prints and products suitable for interior use."

Find her here:

Hannah Redden on Etsy

Hannah Redden on facebook

You should also visit the wonderful blog of her mother Ruthie.

5 Precious Things

Little Burrows Designs on facebook
I've long been a fan of LITTLE BURROW DESIGNS. Based in a gorgeous part of the Devon countryside the owner Claire weaves magical designs from forgotten and lost items. Just before Christmas she shared on facebook a teacup and saucer creation she had made for a customer called , 'The Night Fox. ' I loved everything about it, the art deco Crown Ducal china is so enchanting with it's hand painted raised design.

The Night Fox
by Little Burrow Designs

Claire is a gifted artist whose vision and love for found items makes her work exceptional. On her facebook page she often shares the tiny treasures which she searches for and it is wonderful to see them unfold in new settings where they thrive and have a future. I love the way that she rescues items which many would view as useless.

Because I loved the Night Fox so much I asked if she could create a similar item for me based upon a personal favourite of mine, the folklore of Red Riding Hood and The Wolf. I've never seen it as a tale of Wolf eats Grandma, but rather as confronting the Wolf in all of us. I like to think that Red and The Wolf made friends in the end. Although this is by no means 'nature sanitised for our pleasure' - Beware The Wolf, for he is very wild indeed. This isn't Disney anymore.

She rose to the challenge of sourcing Red, and a Wolf for me. This is what she made.

Who is afraid of The Big Bad Wolf?
by Little Burrow Designs

This is what Claire says about my piece. "This is "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf" aka, Red Riding Hood Picture Teacup. This is another of those divine 1920's orange tree teacups, which are just staggeringly beautiful, and so eye-catching. It has been made to hang like a picture on the wall. Inside, it is filled with vintage objects, that make up the story of red riding hood. She is walking in a forest... of tall trees, at night. The trees are appliquéd patterned 1940's fabric, and the tiny moon is a vintage mother of pearl button. The grass is all hand-stitched in vintage silk. Red riding hood herself is an exceptionally unusual, and eye-catching enamelled brooch. I think it is possibly art nouveau, and if not, art deco, so is anywhere from 1910-1930's. I can't find out anything about it, but it is exceptionally beautiful. The wolf is a pre-war lead figure, approx 1940's. He has rather large dark foreboding eyes, and is sitting in wait for Red Riding Hood".

I love it and will cherish it forever!

You can find her in these places, but she does most of her business from facebook where you can see many of her fabulous creations.  Claire has some wonderful pieces for sale, but she will also create an item to order.

Little Burrow Designs on facebook

Little Burrow Designs on Folksy

Little Burrow Designs on Etsy

Little Burrow Designs BlogSpot

Romy from Hippy at Heart and White Bird Paperwork.

The last Creative Person I want to tell you about is Romy Steiger from WHITE BIRD PAPERWORK and HIPPY AT HEART.

ROMY has a wonderful blog which I have long followed called HIPPY AT HEART, where she showcases her fashion visions in clothes and home furnishings - and her fantastically photogenic cat HENDRIX!

Romy's wonderfully named cat Hendrix

She recently launched her business designing business cards. Her work is top class quality, she has many designs on offer or can create a customer order for you.

White Bird Paperwork

This is what Romy says about herself.  "Hello, I'm Romy, a hedonistic hippy chick from Germany's middle of nowhere in love with life, the late 60s, cheesecake and my small family (and my kitten Hendrix, the housecat ;)). I love doing small things with great love. Just sitting on my desk in solitude - and keeping my imagination running wild. My Etsy shop White Bird Paperwork is my creative outlet for all of this: Designing little pieces of paper in a quirky, fun way, with lots of fun, joy and happiness!"

You can see her work, and read more about her at these places: 

Hippy at Heart blogspot

Hippy at Heart on facebook

White Bird paperwork on facebook

Her shop is at: White Bird Paperwork on Etsy

Tuesday, 24 December 2013


Peace and Plenty to everyone at Christmas time and always.

Time to remember all of those who we have lost this year, all who have stood by our side through good and bad times - and all of those less fortunate than ourselves.

And do not forget to feed the birds in this cold weather!

The tree is lit on the Village Green, carols have been sung, presents wrapped and cheers to everyone.

We are having a quiet Christmas this year, staying in, watching The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, drinking lots of spiced tea and eating Turkish Delight - of course. It has been raining and the wind blew in gales on our hill, but no snow, Narnia has not come. 

Later there will be a ghost story. This year we are reading this, with a haunting portrait of the ravishing Violet, Duchess of Rutland on the cover.

These are a few of our favourite ornaments and items which brighten winter.

We once had a real mouse, named Marvin, who lived under the stairs. Since then we keep to china and cloth versions.

It is a family tradition to exchange a Santa Claus. We have far too many and this year we shared them with anyone who had none. I love the skinny legs on this one and his tails.

Who would have thought? Bunny Santa, with wings! Look at his delightful little pink nose, and his pointy shoes. He is kind of an Edwardian Santa.
Best of all I love the idea of Santa as a simple, but magical wood being
who lives at peace with the animals.
We collect lots of things which seem to belong to Winter, and Christmas.
Trees are a favourite theme.
And Polar Bears.  
Despite all of our collections, we live in a tiny cottage.
It seems china shaped like little houses has found it's way into our collections.
Our clock is even house shaped.
You should share what you have with those who have not. Be they 2 or 4 legged.
Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares..

This year a little cat named Munchkin is with us. He has been living rough for 3 years after his elderly owner died and he was rehomed many miles from there. Not understanding that she had died he ran away and over six months he slowly made his way back home. To find that it was no longer his home at all. Kindly neighbours continued feeding him but cat shelters were full, no one could take him and so he remained homeless for 3 years. Until now. Mrs Black so misses Issy, her Naughty Kitten but we were not looking for another cat. This one found us. He may not stay forever, but he will be at home for Christmas.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013


Isabella Elizabeth
May 14th 2007 - October 18th 2013

My candle burns at both ends
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends -
It gives a lovely light.
~ Edna St. Vincent Millay ~   A Few Figs from Thistles, 1920

Bright eyes, burning like fire
Bright eyes, how can you close and fail?
How can the light that burned so brightly,
Suddenly burn so pale?
Bright eyes
~ Mike Batt ~  for Watership Down



Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
~ Christina Rossetti ~  


I Am Not There
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn's rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush
of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there, I did not die.


This year the glowing embers of Autumn were snuffed out.

Our home is very quiet and still as if blanketed with deep snow.
It’s Narnia without the magic.
For the moment it feels safe here, silent, wrapped in all things white,
we are numb and dim of pain. 


We will return to posting when the ice that grips our hearts begins to melt.




It had been a long time since a kitten had come to share our home. We had lain to rest our three elderly cat companions, moved from life in town to a remote part of Devon and taken on two completely wild ferals to roam the farms. Then she came.

Issy ruled our house and stole our hearts and those of the two wild cats who hissed and growled at us, but were her 'Big Cats'.

Mrs Black and her husband who had once had their own kittens took Issy under their paws and brought her up as family.  They taught her to climb, to fight and to hunt.

She taught them to play and to trust in humans. Without Issy Mrs Black would never have become the excellent housekeeping and shoppe keeping cat which she is today.

A classic Tortoiseshell, from the beginning she was the centre of attention. Known as ‘the naughty kitten’. She was a pouncing contradiction, fiery yet frail, wanton yet affectionate, fearless yet timid. Always into everything, ferocious defender of her territory and a fierce hunter.

Her star burnt ever so brightly. She was, quite simply, luminous.

We took thousands of photographs of her.

It was impossible to resist her. She was a Peter Pan, never really growing up, a Tiger who was afraid of her own shadow if she thought her humans or the Big Cats were not near to protect her. Always reaching out to us with an uplifted paw - she is our eternal kitten.

Being feral and having lived rough before we took them in, the Big Cats had fragile health and many vet bills. We did not know that Issy was ill until it was advanced. We lost her to one of the big three of fatal cat diseases, FIPs (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). It is a secret killer, we seldom know when it strikes, it takes those with weak immune systems, and there is no effective treatment or cure. It is always fatal and takes the form of many disturbing and horrific symptoms before it finally stills the life which it has crept up on.

Issy fought it like a Lion inside of a beautiful kitten and hid the deadly disease from us. She suffered with resorption ulcers and had dental surgery .... and more dental surgery. She began to fade away and the bright light to ebb.

Her fever could not be controlled, she had blood tests, then an operation, we kept faith with Hope, who abandoned us. FIPs was found to be active in the tissue of a lymph node in her stomach. The vet visits and operations terrified her and we chose to have her put to sleep before the disease had the chance to frighten her further. She was recovering from the lymph node surgery and yet the evil disease would still claim her. But we did not let the wraith take her.

The Angel of Death - Evelyn De Morgan, 1880

We entrusted her to gentle Death who came on great silent wings and softly wrapped her in her cape while we held her in our arms. 

You cannot reach the age I find myself now at and not have loved and lost, pets, parents, lovers, friends and colleagues. I have known great love and am grateful for this. Yet in the face of all reason and logic - the truth remains that I have never loved any person or anything more than I loved this bright kitten.

In the greater scheme of events we realise the life of one small cat was rather insignificant. But to each of us our own sorrow is a deep dark ocean that we must cross without a lantern, boat or sail.

Our hearts and thoughts are one with all who have the courage to love.

 There is a light that never goes out.
 "Resembling a London street lamp it stood in the middle of the forest and shone day and night.
A lone connection to the outside world."