Archive | July, 2010

Royal Doulton Countess China

30 Jul

I collect Royal Doulton Countess china – the old Countess, not the nasty new lattice one. It’s hard to find, though, so I’m always on the lookout. I often see items listed on eBay, but it’s generally quite expensive, while most of my most treasured pieces have been found at car boot sales and auctions for mere pennies. And some lovely friends gave me a whole box of Countess bits a couple of years ago when I moved to Cornwall from Pembrokeshire.

I’m not sure of the exact history of the pattern, but I think most of my pieces date from the 1910s and ’20s.

It’s also the pattern used by the divine Dorcas Lane in the BBC adaptation of Larkrise to Candleford! You can see it at about 3:40 here. Oh, how I covet her Welsh dresser full of Countess china.


Persephone Books

30 Jul

Persephone Books. One of my true guilty pleasures.

Persephone is a small London publishing house that reprints ‘forgotten’ 20th century books, mostly (but not all) by women authors. These gorgeous gems, with their dove grey and cream covers, are a real luxury for any bibliophile. Each book has unique endpapers, often fabric prints from the era in which the book is set. And let’s not forget the matching bookmarks.

 The Persephone shop at 59 Lamb’s Conduit Street in Bloomsbury is a magical spot. If you haven’t yet been there, go! You can also order the books online for £10 each or three for £27. If you can stop at one, you’re stronger than I am.


29 Jul

Herbfarmacy makes fantastic organic herbal skin care products!

I have the body lotion (made with calendula, horse chestnut, burdock and marshmallow) and it smells heavenly. It’s £16.50 for 100g and completely worth it.

Eat the Seasons

29 Jul

I’ve been trying to give up supermarket shopping lately, and using only farm shops and the local farmers’ market. Of course, I still need to go to the supermarket for things like cat litter, washing powder, toothpaste, etc. But, apart from that, I’ve been doing well and feeling pretty smug about it all.

If you like to buy, cook and eat fresh seasonal produce, the Eat the Seasons website is a real treat. It tells you what’s in season, gives you information about it and then supplies you with a few recipes. You can also register for a weekly email; I’ve done that but haven’t had my first one yet.

Just a Minute

29 Jul

Series 57 of Just a Minute (yes, that’s FIFTY-SEVEN!) begins on Monday!

I’ve loved Just a Minute for ages and hope it goes on forever. I’ve seen a few tapings over the years (including Dara O’Briain, Marcus Brigstocke and the legendary Clement Freud) and I know that if I lived in London, I’d be at Broadcasting House far too often.

So tune in on Monday 2 August at 6:30pm on Radio 4.

The Real Cut Flower Garden

29 Jul

Charlie Ryrie is fabulous. She grows and sells real, traditional, seasonal English flowers. None of those ridiculous mass-produced, refrigerated monstrosities that have been shipped in lorries from who knows where. These are proper flowers.

Charlie does a mail-order service which is brilliant. Place your order, and you (or the lucky recipient) will have a bouquet the next day. No two bouquets are the same, because she uses whatever’s growing in her garden. It depends on the season, the weather, etc. You won’t get foxgloves in January, but you will get something beautiful, sustainable and very special.

She also did my wedding flowers last year, and they were the finishing touch to a perfect day. You can read Charlie’s blog here (see June 2009 for pictures of our wedding). Or, if you’re in Hay-on-Wye, you can often find her at the Thursday market.