Saturday, 17 March 2018

Houses round the Backs of Things

This lumpy and appealing early house is round the back of the deeply stressful and hideous multistorey carpark in Perth. It is signposted as the 'Fair Maid's House' thanks to that irritating old myth maker Sir Walter Scott. The origins of the house are probably medieval, restored in the C19th. It has those great giveaways of interest for me, a round tower, probably originally turrreted but now chopped off, and an obscure location off the street plan.
The house now homes a museum of the Perth Society of Antiquaries but sadly was closed when we visited. Perth is a fascinating if slightly decrepit small city with some wonderful early and C18th architecture.

Art Reading

This year's reading project is art. I am trying to get more into art, together with my art classes I take on a thursday evening, the reading will hopefully inspire me.

So far I have read or have ready to read:

From Giotto to Cezanne by Michael Levy
The Art of Today by Brandon Taylor

I just bought these two wee paperbacks from the Oxfam shop today. 

A Closer Look at Techniques of Painting
A Closer Look at Colour

Both from the excellent National Gallery series, more technical art historical books.

The Art of Rivalry by Sebastian Smee

Fascinating book about the turbulent friendships or rivalries of C20th painters such as Freud and Bacon or De Kooning and Pollock.

The Last Pre Raphaelite by Mary MacCarthy

Hulking but gripping biography of Edward Burne Jones, featuring Rossetti, Morris and all the usual suspects. I have a bit of an obsession with this lot and Morris is an especial hero of mine.

A Short Book about Painting
A Short Book about Drawing

Both by Andrew Marr. Intensely personal accounts of his art and his thoughts on art which I cannot recommend too highly. 

Saturday, 10 March 2018

More sustainable fashion

My latest second hand buy was a viscose silk wrap dress by Boden. It has a spotted pattern in coral, khaki and black, not my usual colours. But sometimes it's the things that are out of your comfort zone that you wear and like most.

Things I bought or were given I didn't think I'd like:
Pleather biker jacket, second hand.
Blue batwing jumper with fringe, so 80s! From my mum in law.
Bright pink crewneck jumper looks good with grey. From my stepmum. 
Grey patterned skirt with red contrast zips, second hand.
Brown bobbly jumper, not my usual colour, bought in sale.

Also it can be good to inject something completely different into your comfortable wardrobe.

Backs of Places

Another door. I love the mystery of a door. And the backs of things; an obscure corner of the garden at Castle Fraser. I love walled gardens which remind me of The Secret Garden, a much loved book of my childhood. I tried to capture the beauty but also the decay of a wet winter in a slightly decrepit garden.
My art class has made me more comfortable with colour and messiness. I included the random blodges I made because I rather like them.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Seventies Door

Not a back, but a front of house. I love this colourful 1970s door on a street by me. Often people replace old doors with hideous but draught free white plastic ones. Save the old doors! 
This is in marker pen on brown paper, I didn't know if I would like narker pen but it is speedy, graphic and colourful and great for capturing bits of urban detail.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Crown Street Backs of Houses

Not my best picture this, but memorised from the car rather than done from a photo. This is the back of a house on Crown Street. This round tower probably houses a staircase. It is small but was once pretentious; the top is rendered. The bottom has the render stripped, revealing small brick pilasters, which should be covered to give a classical effect. It has a stumpy conical roof. The house has obviously come down in the world. Crown Street is a faintly seedy area of b and b's, takeaways and cheap flats. Among it you can find interesting buildings of the early C19th and small private lanes. The road itself meanders crookedly from Union Street down the hill towards Ferryhill, off the beaten track. Worth exploring. I may have to do a photo walk there.

Friday, 23 February 2018

Italian Cookery Project 2

Since the last time I posted I have made the following from my cookbook Gastronomy of Italy:

Lamb and Potato Stew
Vegetable Risotto
Saffron Risotto
Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi

The stew was hearty and delicious, a bit like a hotpot. It also has onion, mushrooms and tomato paste in. A great recipe for cold weather! 
The veg risotto had tomato puree, peas, courgette and carrot. It was a bit basic but tasty and healthy. You have to chop the carrot very small so it cooks at the same time as softer veg like the courgette. Risotto is a staple recipe for me and I like to make lots of variants. 
The saffron risotto is a bit more exotic with an interesting slightly bitter herbal flavour and lovely golden colour from the saffron. 
The spinach and ricotta gnocchi were very spinachy and an extremely lurid green! I served them with a tomato sauce. I have a strange love of spinach which I believe is super healthy. 

I have one more gnocchi recipe to try using semolina, and a variety of other recipes from spicy prawns to pork stews and cheesy pasta. It's a great cookbook, the recipes are varied, achievable and tasty. I gravitate to stews or quick cooking things as we are often busy.