The English Rose – Fashion Museum, Bath yesterday – Lovely Belleville Sassoon and the Georgians

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I had a very pleasant interlude, after meeting an old friend for lunch on a sunny April afternoon. The Loft, Bath – just near the top of Milsom St. on a pedestrian steep st around the corner from the Assembly Room/Costume museum, now named the Fashion museum. The Loft is a good place for Salads and soups of the day and great home cooking; i had the Lemon torte, my friend ate an old favourite Chocolate Brownie, a relief and pleasurable after her Lent of forgoing chocolate .

The museum has two new Exhibitions a look at Georgian people and who wore what sort of clothing, shown within their basement rooms at the home of the fashion archive and also includes a new display of the Life in Fashion drawings of Belleville Sassoon, Fashion Designer and Couturier to Diana, Princess of Wales and many other noted Royals and members of the Aristocracy. Jeannie of Canarvon, Dowager Countess from Highclere near my home ( aka. Downton Abbey, she’s a real Countess who was born in America) and loaned her own white ball gown which was a summery eyelet embroidered dress of simplicity, the Princess Royal loaned her famous Wedgwood Blue suit, an exquisite example of Sassoon’s pearl & bead embroidery Chanel shaped short jacket , worn for the Sarkozy presidential State visit & it had matching Cameo ladies . Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and his brother Prince Henry (Harry) have lent a selection of their mother Diana’s wardrobe, from her charming Salmon pink going-away suit with slender dress and bolero jacket surrounded by sketches of her dresses including some maternity ones with « Yes, please » and ticks from their mum and rather charming girlish notes saying thankyou for her new clothes. We also saw some slinky red numbers by another of Sassoon’s designers for different glamorous 1990s evenings and one sexy number in particular was worn by Jerry Hall.

 

En passant

Noah at the Movies and Tragedy with our Celebrity Geldofs once more

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Noah was too bloodthirsty for my taste – my husband tells me there really is a co-relation between bloodthirsty films and games and crime figures, they have proved this now – so why do we allowe it ? I’m not sure we should….I wouldnt want my grandchildren to see this new one, it’s too gory even for me….

My daughters seem unaffected by these things BUT the next generation of 10 or so plus should still be protected by us their elders because we owe it to them to give them an innocent childhood. This seems to get shorter as time goes by. I’m not ready for Sarah & her brother tp grow up just yet.

What about the Hobbit that too was too gory and i found myself not wanting to look at those oh so ugly creatures… Must they make movies as graphic as this? We were able to hide behind the sofa and peer at Dracula, Frankenstein all those golden oldies…Was it because they were shot in black & white perhaps and that we were not immersed in a warm bath of blood each time we saw a « Horror » or « Adventure » movie? I’m not sure…

Russell Crowe’s Noah is well done – but i recall the drunken-ness of Noah was to get his own daughters pregnant in the Biblical version wasn’t it ? As there were no other women about. Whereas Poor little Emma Watson here is petrified he’ll murder Shem & her new born children? Where did that come from? I don’t ever recall Noah being so bloodthirsty or cruel, other than leaving the rest of  mankind to drown and didn’t his own sons all have wives, prior to setting off in the Ark ?

Oh well, i don’t recall Ray Winstone’s character either, but this all made for some exciting conflict i presume for the cinematographer to picture for us. No doubt they’ll pick up some prizes if only for the marvellous bad knitting costumes and the special effects – i love the landscape – who knows where it was shot ? Please tell me.

Yet another young glamourous celebrity found dead this last week – when we went into our local pub fro a relaxing drink, there it was all over the screen, young mother of 25yrs dies in unexplained tragedy. I told Ken the publican, we can never stop worrying about  our young really can we? My heart goes out to the Geldofs, a family with more than their fair share of tragedy to cope with over the years, poor Bob and his daughters and Peaches’ own husband and sons – their lives will never be the same again and i only hope they can forgive her for leaving them bereft. Perhaps she will now be re-united with her own mum and can forgive her indeed for leaving them.

Missing the Quiet & Country Lanes of Rural France

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I just got back from an industrious Weekend where i made 10 or 12 Saleable Prints of this QuieImage

A Quiet Country Lane in Rural France…

I just returned from an industrious weekend with Laura Boswell at Ardington and am very pleased with my results – 8 or 10 Saleable Prints from our Lino Cut Printmaker’s course. But I am missing our quiet country walks with Dandie Dinmont Terrier and my husband, although we did manage to walk beside one ploughed field and one planted with potatoes on the Oxfordshire, former chalk downs beside the Ridgeway. It was a bit muddy where we parked beside a plantation of trees we chose to leave behind. And We fetched up alongside the Gallops where no doubt many of this Saturday’s Grand National runners have been exercised ready for their big day out racing against the youngsters of their sport.

As a family, we have historically always enjoyed the Grand National and placed each way bets on the horses we like the sound of or whose names intrigue us. Some of us read « the Form » and some of us place a pin or argue for a while about the horses splendid and awful names. How such beautiful creatures arrive at these terrible names we’ll never know…. Some of us follow a particular Trainer or Jockey and again some of us just fling our money at whichever one takes our fancy on the day ! One of us usually gets close to winning and some years we Dine out on the proceeds as being a family Event, that is how the Prize winnings are spent !

I can recommend this as Good Sport and Entertainment for a Saturday in watching the Races on the Telly. BUT even better are the Saturdays or Easter Mondays spent enjoying the Sport in the fresh air witha good deal of sandwiches in a picnic basket or a Quiche made for the occasion . We shall probably be doing this in a couple of weeks time over near Ardington and Ilsley & the Hendreds for Easter Monday, as there is to be a POINT-to-POINT then, which is where i first learnt about this Sport of kings and indeed, first won my first 30 bob on a 6shilling bet – winnings of £1.50 to you uneducated 21st Century lot, in the days when that was the price of a Hard backed book  or the family’s fish and chips !!

 

 

Royal Nannies and daughters

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I wanted to write about Norland and how unreliable their judgement was – but that would be unfair to all those wonderful girls who become Norland Nannies. It’s just the management i have  a bone to pick with really…

My daughter is now working ina  Late-night Bar weekends and waiting to get an ordinary Office job. She’s had it with Nannying for now…Even after qualifying and having at least two decent jobs she’s had so many Bad Luck jobs with apppalling dreadful employers that she’s given it up for LENT. They seem all hell-bent on being mean or unfair… Two let her go for not getting washing in out of hte rain at ten o clock at night and the baby falling asleep in its’ car seat with its’ head lolling ! She had trouble with them almost immediately…Ghastly mothers who wouldn’t allowe her to be the Professional Nanny that she was Trained to be?

Very strange this new breed of mothers who have  athird child then go back to work too soon, expecting a young woman to stay home to feed on demand…with expressed breast milk ? MADNESS! One set of Solicitor parents, yes that intelligent supposedly, didn’t ebven give her  aDoctor’s telephone number or let her take a crying baby for  a check up ! What did her college say to that ? 
OH It’s the Mother’s perogative isn’t it how the baby gets fed ?  No i don’t think so ! He was starving himself waiting for Mum to show up with her Breast Milk ! You know why ? Because the milk in the bottle , althouhg breast expressed was given after Friday , Saturday, Sunday of Breast Milk from the Breast ! Silly selfish Solicitor mother was going to work Mon to Thursday and expecting poor baby to have a bottle those days BUT not giving  abottle even once a day the days she was home again.

Answer – One very confused Baby and one very tired and completely defeated Norland Nanny. For whom Norland refused to find another probationary post – no fault of the nanny here at all….

I should have written to the Queen, and Princess Kate , i knew i should have done so. Aah well. Our Nanny got her Maternity course Training last summer as she couldn’t find  a job. Most London positions now are 3-4 days a week, live-out and so people not from London can’t afford to take them. Rents are too high, public transport too expensive…

We’re the ones suffering. The Nanny’s father has returned to work and the mother, that’s me, is thinking about returning to Teaching, if only Special Needs, part-time…I don’t know what the world’s coming to.

Perfectly well trained people are not finding jobs that pay and older members of their families are having to continue to work instead of Retiring. We’ll all be 70 now before we STOP work – what’s that about please?

HOT COLD & JAZZ !

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One day it’s warm, Spring sunshine sort of warmth, Let’s plant the Daffodil Bulbs sort of day, 12 to 14degrees – The next it’s COLD freezing i mean 8 deg and i need a toastie, a Hot waterbottle in bed and i can’t get up in the morning i don’t want to leave my burrow sort of freezing!

What IS Going ON we say Dear Lord what’s happenning to our weather please help us find out ? Can we do somehting about it ? Well yes, you can switch off a boiler, stop going places by car and aero plane, take a break & stay AT HOME ! Be a 70s Hippie Earth Mother Learn to grow your own veg again even if you only have a window box of herbs and Tomatoes in a Grow Bag ! Take time to bake a cake, bread , although that’ll never happen here in France, hang out the washing STOP using every machine known to man, stop wasting the Electric the war on waste is here. Don’t leave lights on , TAPS RUNNING  or they’ll run dry…

Aah well. We finally Christened our Dining table with French new friends last night, first Dinner party -fish pie for 4, with prawns and carrots, mashed potato, kept it simple, local bread, all in our big Music room with its fab Arch window. Apple Tarte au pomme from a local bakery. New fire blazing with logs, background heat – the most ecologically friendly granular wood burning boiler, underfloor heat. Only heats to 16 deg so you have to keep busy or light  a log fire to bring up the temp ! See we do do as we preach… All 4 of us clamber into our Renault after 8.30pm and hot foot 20mins into Bourg-en-Bresse , Ferme à Jazz to hear the Magnetic Orchestra ! ONly an Ensemble of 3 with a lovely young singer, with maximum Sex Appeal my husband apologized this morning to finding her very appealing ! Fantastic Voice – Think Cleo Laine crossed with Edith Piaf – We think Anne Sila will be the next BEST thing ! THeir new album is out on 10th or 12th March Watch this space! A very enjoyable evening spent there, they do have Bar drinks in the Interval and at Xmas and New Year served Vin Chaud – mulled hot wine! BUT I wish they’d serve Diner and let us Dance we all wanted to…. And she had us eating out of her hand till almost midnight – in the door, Bonsoir friends, SLeep tight.

EDUCATION – The Driving Test is the culmination of a Private Eduation

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I seem incapable of waking up anymore. Except for a call of Nature as hte men call it !
What is it about typing up Ancestral relations for generations that gives me a kind of Sleeping Sickness do you think ? Anyone out there – do let me know….

We’ve gone from sombre days and deep winter to SPring overnight here…Yesterday was 12 plus degrees ! And  we sat on our terrace gazing into the blue skies and sunshine, scribbling a ragged hedgerow for the next collection in my sketchbook perhaps. I want to play with Black silk and natural colours and capture some grasses swaying. We have a lovely big fat clump of Pampas grasses – do they still grow out on hte Prairie i wonder ?

The daughter’s doing her Driving Test as we speak – i wonder how she’s getting on? She’s hte one who hates and scrapes throuhg exams and did much better with coursework – i’d have done better if we’d had that in my day… However i blame the Blair Govt for ruining and de-basing the currency of A levels. These used to be well respected world wide now you have to have an International Baccalaureate i believe to be taken seriously…Oh that we had made her stay in geneva for schooling but at 2 girls to 20 boys and everyone had their friends already when she arrived aged 15 gauche and shy in February, that wasn’t going to happen. We made the mistake of sending her home to re-take the year . Eventually got brilliant GCSE’s could like her big sister 15 yrs previously have done ANY A level course from 3 Sciences, to Languages, Maths you name it…Instead of which she didn’t take them. She has half or Year one A levels. or ASs as they are uncomfortingly called…I suspect she’d have scarped an A and two Cs at least – but she wasn’t even allowed to try. I’m not sure what one pays School fees for, I certainly wouldn’t call them value for money. On Average about 250k of their grandparents money, should have lived in the house and gone on nice holidays and sent them to a day school in a decent Midlands town like Leamington Spa – oh well. here we are broke and bereft, missing our girls,  as no one really wants to live in France do they….? Anyone for a French University perhaps. 600€uros a Year i believe Not 9 grand ! How do they work that out i wonder ….?

En passant

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Must have been one of the wettest weeks on living record….Datchet underwater – what a good thing the Queen lives at Windsor Castle on top of a hill…said my Mum earlier on today.Indeed, fortuitous, although of course the wise man, as in the Bible, always builds his house upon rock never on the sandy riverbed or beside the sea…Always at the top of  a hill on top of rocks, mountains, on higher ground ! The Thames barrier is doing its’ job in London town and keeping the water at bay, but further West it cannot do the same…

My husband says the british have a new kind of Environment minister, one that Does NOT believe in Climate change, one who foolishly has removed something like 30 posts once filled by beavering civil servants who all knew perfectly well thta hte Scientific evidence was there for all to see and in fact my husband was one such. He about ten years ago worked for Tony Blair, althouhg it took the Prime minister of the day about 6 or 8 years to ask my husband to breakfast, Number 10 did put his name up for  aGong after 30 years of beavering…not all of it for tony not all of it for Environment but it was my husband who celebrated the Novbel Peace prize going to his Indian team of Scientific researchers for their massive help in finding out about climate change. Apparently it is now UNFASHIONABLE again and we’ll be the ones to perish at Datchet and other places underwater – not to mention half France as well…Newbury’s not too great – but our MP Richard Benyon is supposed to be working for this lousy new minister perhaps he should point out the geese living in our grazing sheep and cattle feeds… After all Englefield green estate’s profits will be going down the drains if our Environment ministers do nothing… I’m reliably informed Climate change does exist it’s perfectly plain to see if you know anything about rural places in UK particularly. But what about all the other places wiht freak weather ? Winter olympics at 64 degrees in Russia for example.

I mean it’s obvious to everyone who isn’t  a politician isn’t it ? When will they learn ? I’m also told it’s hugely unlikely Cameron will get back in – so who WILL we get in UK ‘s No 10 then ? Not Labour surely with those people who stab their brothers in the back? Surely not UKIP whoever they are or what do they believe in… ? Freak weather is here to stay, and you need to understand that unless you can start to do something about it the people of Europe and the World are simply NOT going to take you seriously Let alone England and Great Britain. So my dear Smarmy pants MPs who deign to ignore it – think again …. It’s my grandchildren aged 10 and yours, unborn, who will pick up the pieces and try to build their houses on safer firmer ground, both environmentally and politically for a VERY Very long time to come….So put that in your pipe and smoke it  – be blasée Mr Tory Politician at your PERIL !

En passant

I’m not sure we should have picked yesterday to return for a visit to friends and run errands in Geneva, the weather was appalling – visibility poor on the motorway and traffic  for once non existant going and foul and pretty heavy on our return… He had the easier task of driving to and me the horrible freezing fog and sleet snow warnings at 2 degrees on the high mountain pass across the valley of Titans back home again. Of course we used to think crossing this valley was coming into Genève and the route homeward, not for the faint hearted driving through the air, until just over a year ago. Most of our friends had scuttled away indoors, curled up in their warm apartments, even their dogs didn’t want to venture out, and half of them were quite or almost unavailable for Biz’ness either !

C’est la vie vendredi, as fridays are sacred to some, the time to wind down for a massage, take thé with a voisin, neighbour, break bread at mass, or a similar laid back activitiy. Very often, people leave their offices earlier in other lands, head off for Le Weekend, perhaps to take part in a Sport or view others so doing….

We had an odd day of wet gardens, flooding and muddy pavements with chilly winds and damp hats, gloves, feet. And sometime forgotten brollies/ umbrellias !  First i left it in the car, then the Car Insurance bureau, then i left it upstairs at a friend’s flat ! I’d told my husband i shouldn’t be allowed to take it in the first place… My own day was trying to close a Bank account, easier said than done en Suisse, although laying hands on funds was not so difficult….Trying to get the car legal..probably fine for another 6 months anyway, new Green card in hand to drive en France « Abroad » in Uk and out of Swiss jurisdiction.

The red tape is enormous and even the Banks have trouble understanding it for us, let alone we ourselves. It seems you cannot close an account till you have ascertained whether there will be any Tax  owing the état de Genève, even when you have no income, other than the housekeeping, now paid by one’s husband in another currency into a different account in another place… AND no longer any Rental income or any other income at all, unless you count pesky artist’s earnings, none anyway to mention in the last 12 mths that you can possibly think of, AND you haven’t actually used this precise bank account here in Swiss vicinity, except fo make transfers to your Deposit/ Savings account, tax taken at source surely like UK ? Nor has one made any inauspicious late investments leading to fraud or bankruptcy !

( We just had to sign a Disclaimer for the French Bank to say we wouldn’t dream of paying in any such funds to that account either… As if any self-possessed, self confessed Drug dealer / Manufacturer- see last Post on Breaking Bad TV series, would actually admit to the fraudulence of the same anyway! )

Frankly I despair of ALL Authorative states, rather in the way of the book i’m currently reading, with Philip Pullman’s characters Lyra and Will, stumble in and out of each other’s worlds, in the Subtle Knife – the second in the Trilogy of – His Dark Materials, and the wretched quasi religious?? Magisterium- but is it indeed ?? Those like Mrs Coulter, who want to run and ruin both children and adult’s, everyone’s lives, their fun…. and put a dampener on anything unearthly like Dust, Angels, Witches or Spirits. I’ve always thought Rules and Regulations over-rated since about the age of 4 when i can barely remember walking home from Sunday school with my fair isle Beret pulled down firmly no doubt, and telling my family i wouldn’t be going there again, i’d found it far too prescriptive and dull and the Bible was full of marvellous stories wasn’t it ? !

As long as i can remeber then, I’ve never been partial to being TOLD what to do and consequently never really accepted anyone’s authority over me. My parents excepted perhaps. That’s not to say i’m a very brave person or Not a bit afraid of authority now and then, it simply means i want the chance to work it out for myself, and generally by myself…

Sometimes this has made for very grave difficulties in life, sometimes for occasional out of pocket expense, particularly when i failed to see the relevance of handing in my Taxes on time, but really i’m only following in my Father’s footsteps for he was not one to suffer fools at the Accountants office nor at HM Inland Rev. I once knew a very affable chap, a really gentlemanly English Solicitor, who in latter years worked for HM Rev. but unfortunately for hiim & his beloved family, now he has Alzheimers’ or Senile Dementia, about 10 or 15 yrs before his time… Not fair we reckon nor much of a Retirement present in general.But how many does this happen to , who work so hard and dutifully never taking a day off, always there to help their clients or colleagues, not much  of a reward for a life-time’s diligence you’d think….

I do sincerely hope my husband and indeed my brothers, will be allowed some pleasant years to come of Relaxation, trips to the SPa, swimming, Walking the Dog, Cycling around the Rural French and English and even Californian countryside with or without son, daughters, grandchildren…

We spent a very happy evening together last night at least, foot tapping and smiling along to a Blues evening of Piano and Electric guitar in a corner café on the rue de Merle d’Aubigny, Geneva,  just between the Parc Eaux Vives, beside the Lake, and Mont Choisy en the bus routes 9,1 and/ or the 2, and 6 going down from Eaux Vives itself. It seems they hold these small Soirée about 2 nights a month and we were very lucky to get the last 2 places, all the others had been booked in advance – we were well fed by a lovely young woman and her assistant, entertained and happy, before and after the small Concert – and yes, we were almost home by Midnight !

Life, God and the whole Drugs Scandal of Breaking Bad

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When i first started watching Breaking Bad i thought we might be in for a little quiet entertainment, and i confess to feeling a little bit perplexed anyone would want to make a Series for TV about all those things we’d be arrested for doing…. But it made us laugh out loud and now we’re feeling  a little guilty but onto Series 2 – well i’m frightened to open my eyes half the episode for fear of what i’ll see… Then well the Bad guy gets his come uppance and we hear the music roll and wonder how on earht they’re going ot keep it up for the next 10 episodes ! When i talked about it to my young they just said it was amazing and no i probably won’t like it but they thought it was brilliant ! Should we actually favour Tv programmes about Drug users, losers, and the Chemistry Teacher who has turned bad…?? Isn’t it morally wrong to watch the thing that may encourage Teenagers/ young people to take up Drugs…? Or is their very incompetence to deal with life on the Wild side enough to warn off the limp livered and the cowardly in us all and keep us safe from harm, i wonder??

Yesterday i said what a terrible loss to the World of Dramatic Arts losing a great talent like Philip Seymour Hoffman the Actor was, and yet he was hooked or so we are made to believe, hooked up by his crystal world his tin foil shiny elsewhere place of wonderland. Not one of us knows why such genius talents of the very young , the Amy Winehouse, the Jimi Hendrix, the Janis Joplin, the Jim Morrison, and the not so young are frightened to live without it, the Drink or the Drugs – but it often seems without their fix they cannot manage nor do they want to. 

Life to me has always been something sacred, perhaps because i’ve been so very near the edge of it on more than one occasion and peered over, and then come back, almost reaching the end of the dark tunnel by myself & also i’ve done that with my own child as well. To me, Life is God given, and no one else has the right to take it away from another except God.

I am not here to judge and i’m only nervous that if we find programmes like these so amusing – then perhaps we should be asking why is it are we watching them? Before i did watch at all, i thought it might be hypercritical to watch something that i didn’t really feel had the right to be made, but on the other hand, if i were inclined to make my living badly from drugs, by now this Breaking Bad would definitely have put me off for good !