I have a tendency towards verbosity at the best of times … I say in ten words when three will often suffice (except of course when I’m writing an article and I know I’m limited to 750 or 1000 words). Therefore, as I have several topics to talk about today, please get yourself a cup of tea or coffee or whatever takes your fancy. I am having a cup of tea as I write this.
Much of what I am going to write about has been occasioned by the Saturday and Sunday papers. I love the weekend papers, especially when I have time to sit and read them. Better still is also having bought a magazine (in this case, two magazines) to accompany them.
First, let me return for a moment to Marie Kondo and the sensitive subject of tidying up (why never tidying down?) There was a whole page about her in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph; the 34 year old Japanese woman responsible for millions clearing out their homes and, well, tidying up.
And so I thought I’d have a look at her first book online – several pages are there to see, but not in sequence unfortunately, otherwise there’d be little point in trying to sell it – and from what I read I don’t think I will be buying it, new or used.
Much appears to be what I’d call ‘common sense’ (if, of course, you forget the thanking the house for supplying a roof over your head or stroking your clothes for keeping you warm) such as having a place for everything and putting everything back in it’s place. This is the ideal and actually what I was taught as a child. But we in the western world don’t always live our lives like this. Our homes tend to be messy – not dirty, just untidy. We then clear them out every so often, but before long the messiness creeps back in, like spilt milk making its way under the fridge. We are not tidy Japanese. We love our books, our pictures, and even our untidy kitchen drawers. So, even if you do begin – as I have, believe it or not – to roll your scarves, and fold your knickers into little parcels, don’t get rid of all your books, magazines, pictures, even the awful one that Auntie Joan gave you, because they are part of our kind of heritage. Be minimalist if you prefer, but not because someone tells you to be minimalist.
I think what I’m trying to say is, take from Marie that which is useful, as I have done.
By no means perfect, but my scarf drawer is 100% better than it was, when I would tidy it periodically and then, once it got messy, I would just throw my scarves into it and fish one out when necessary – provided I could find it!
I did the same with my underwear drawer, but I’m not showing you that. Again, knickers folded into little oblong parcels, bras neatly placed with straps within the cups, and camisoles also folded into little parcels. I felt quite proud of myself but at the same time felt I was selling out to another culture!
I spent Friday cleaning out our wardrobes in our bedroom. We have only this one large wardrobe which we share (our own appointed sections for his and hers) and so because I’d bought new clothes recently, it was necessary to let some items go to the charity shop. Two large garden waste sacks of clothes, actually! But what’s left is all usable, and now tidily arranged and without the help of Ms Kondo.
Indeed, the Modern Stereotypes column in today’s Sunday Telegraph is a witty take on Ms Kondon, when on a pair of “hopeless declutterers” who writer, Victoria Mather refers to as Hugo and Kitty attempt to tidy up. They have, Kondo-style, gathered all their belongings and put them in an unruly heap in the middle of the floor and are trying to part with such things as “Dear Little Teddy, who accompanied her [Kitty] to boarding hell at St Mary’s” and Hugo “is distraught at the idea of getting rid of his books. In fact, he is manning up to forbid it. Who is this sterile person to tell him what to do? His grandfather’s copy of Lord Wavell’s Other Men’s Flowers gives him enormous joy …”
Feature on Blenheim Palace with a cup of coffee
By coincidence – or careful planning by the various editors of the sections of the paper – the Property section of yesterday’s Daily Telegraph ran a feature on Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire which was all about “the ultimate spring clean.” I wonder what Marie Kondo would do with the 10,000 books in the library, or how she might tackle the ‘clutter’ in 187 rooms? It is because, as a nation, we have always shied away from de-cluttering that we have all these wonderful artefacts going back centuries. True, we don’t all have Gobelin tapestries or Gainsborough paintings, but we do have things handed down from our own grandparents and great-grandparents, so let’s not go stark raving bonkers in our tidying efforts, chucking baby out with the bathwater. The feature was all about how the staff cleaned the Palace when it is open every day except Christmas Day, and how there are currently Conservation Tours being run up to the 10th February.
Now to the bit I really enjoyed. The main feature in the Saturday section, “Does your house pass the posh test?”
Feature on Posh, with a cup of Earl Grey
I can’t resist such a feature and it would seem that our house is just a teeny weeny bit posh according to the feature, although I would say it is quite ordinary. Of course, posh today doesn’t mean what it originally meant, which was Port Out Starboard Home, for those travelling by steamer to India and beyond, so that you booked a cabin on the shaded side of the ship.
So what makes a house posh? Having lots of paintings on the walls, but if you don’t have original art work, then maps and vintage posters. Yes, we have paintings on the wall, nothing valuable, but they are original …
Also, lots of fabrics. Yes, we have cushions and curtains, and bedspreads over duvets (I don’t like to see just duvets on beds; I cover our duvets with a bedspread during the day). Oh, and it’s posh to have books on every surface – yes to that! However, avoid the cliched arrangement of having books on either side of the fireplace “and go for a table with books piled underneath.” I’ve got that by default because I’ve run out of shelf space! Funny, how that makes our home a candidate for poshness!
What else makes it posh? Not having spotlights, instead having standard lamps and table lamps (yes to both here); no bi-fold doors (wouldn’t want them anyway); nothing matching too much, as if you’ve bought everything at the same time (nothing matches here, but more by luck than judgment); no feature walls (one style guru says it’s the worst look, and I agree); metro brick-style tiles aren’t posh, but plain square cheap white ones are; and best of all for me, wallpaper is posh, especially in the bathroom! My goodness, I didn’t realize our home was so posh! They list 25 ways in which your home is posh or it isn’t. It was a fun read if all a bit subjective and silly. But I like a bit of silly!
I’ve always piled books on tables, but does it make me posh? I doubt it!
Next, back with clothes, but not my scarlet underwear this time. I was reading, again in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph, about the difficulty in finding clothes to suit us. An online company (lookiero.co.uk) assigns you a personal shopper who curates a box of clothes for you – “you don’t get to know what clothes are inside until you open it.” You don’t have to keep all or any of the clothes, and for the writer of the feature “not everything was a success” but most were, and she was pleased with the service and the quality and the prices of the items included. I can’t say I will be trying this service, only that I thought I’d mention it. Sadly, another bullet in the back of the high street.
Now to films.
As I mentioned in previous posts, I wasn’t wholly enamoured with either Colette or The Friendship. But I love to see a film on the ‘big screen’ in a cinema and so have booked for us to see the new Sir Kenneth Branagh film, All is True, about the later life of William Shakespeare (his co-star as his wife, Anne Hathaway, is Dame Judi Dench, over 20 years’ Branagh’s senior, and Sir Ian McKellen is also in the film.) I’m now considering booking for Vice, too, with Christian Bale as Dick Cheney.
Time I think for some photos! Without photos it wouldn’t be a weekend supplement …
Two lovely magazines I bought yesterday – I pushed out the boat as I really couldn’t make up my mind which to have. I’d never seen Milieu before, and it turns out to be an American publication. Strange to see such a magazine in a newsagent’s shop in Wellswood. Curiosity has been assuaged and I shan’t be buying it again. Not really my kind of magazine, homes too large and actually a little too clean and tidy. On the other hand, I enjoyed a look yesterday at House & Garden.
No Weekend Supplement would be complete without a food item, but no recipes here, just some photos of today’s baking: rock cakes and cheese scones, both favourites of ours.
Cheese scones straight from the oven
Rock cakes, cooling
I’ve also made cauliflower, leek, courgette and blue cheese soup, another favourite, and a pork and cider casserole. All good home-made food for us to enjoy over the next couple of days.
Back with clothes for one moment, I have managed to locate a camisole/vest (this is vest in England, an undergarment, not vest in America, something to be worn outside) that matches my new crimson bra and knickers. It is made by Patra, the silk clothing company. It is 90% modal and 10% silk and while not exactly glamorous, it is lovely to wear under jumpers in winter …
I have ordered a camisole/vest in cream, too, not to go with the almond-coloured bra and knickers i recently bought, but to go with my (little used) under-wired cream bras and knickers.
And to end this Weekend Supplement, flowers … the red tulips have opened up and now look more like poppies …
and the white cyclamen, of which this is one of them, are still flowering in the sitting room window …
I hope you are having a good weekend or, if it’s over by the time you are reading this, you have had a good weekend.
Until next time.