Friday, 23 December 2011

An Old Friend

My friend and fellow blogger Sarah Rooftops set a challenge to write a blog post on your most treasured possession. Not including partner, family or pets.

Well, my 36 year old teddy bear Ruth is pretty close to being one of these really. Ruth sports a vintage 1974 cardi in striped towelling which I used to wear when I was a baby. She has been much loved over her three decades and has undergone various remedial procedures including a new face (made of old towel) and new nose (actually for a toy dog). But her original expression and personality was carefully retained.

In my mind, Ruth is a Buddha like figure of silent wisdom and comfort and a secret Ninja master. The perfect sidekick in fact.

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Winter Wonderland

It snowed today! And I enjoyed my favourite walk along the old railway line (now a cycle track). There were loads of gorgeous red berries on holly and rowan trees. Here, a blackbird enjoys the berries. Interestingly, they are poisonous to us, but not to them. How does that work?

Monday, 12 December 2011

Getting Medieval With It

No, it's not the scariest tomato in the world (for Alistair) or a beachball with piercings. This is a clove studded orange aka a pomander. Pomanders became a big thing for Xmas in the C17th and C18th. They were also believed to protect against disease, including plague! Better safe than sorry, I say...

Make a pomander by studding any citrus fruit with cloves and it should naturally dry and fragrance in a Christmassy way. Oranges are traditional but you can use limes, lemons, or kumquats (don't ask me, I wouldn't know one if I saw one.)

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Edwardian Elizabethan

Sorry no blog alst week as my Mum was visiting. We did go for a great Historical Walk though, exploring around Rubislaw Den. The area has the amazing old quarry ('the biggest hole in Europe' apparently) enticingly ringed by big DANGER signs and some of Aberdeen's most expensive homes. Most date from the early 1900s and are so varied you feel the client just stabbed his finger in a picture book and said 'I'll have one of those please'. This one on Queen's Road is Elizabethan, a style you don't often see in Scotland where Baronial is more the thing. Presumably this is because Elizabeth I and thus Elizabethan didn't have any impact up here (a fact I always overlook in my English parochialism.) Anyway, much lovely home eye candy to enjoy, recommended.

Monday, 14 November 2011

A Full Vase

A full vase is a happy vase. And a house with plants and flowers is a happy house, to my mind. Actually I didn't really get into flowers until I started the Apartment Therapy programme, thanks to fellow blogger Sarah Rooftops. One of the home projects is to buy flowers. These giant fuzzy crysanthemums/dahlias are one of my favourite flowers. I like any big, colourful flowers. Flowers I hate include those miserable supermarket roses, baby's breath (like dust stuck on a twig) and those mini cabbage flowers (decorative cabbages= weirdness).

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Perfect shoe

Finally, the perfect evening shoe! Not like the Louboutins I saw on holiday but as I don't have £900 to spare...

This fabulously retro black suede T-bar shoe is from John Rocha at Debenhams. I felt it had a really lovely 1940s-y look to it.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


Halloween is one of my favourite celebrations. I see it as a last burst of fun before the winter closes in. (Alistair says I like it because it is anarchic...) I like dressing up, I like watching Hammer horror movies, and, this time, I liked making Halloween themed cupcakes. Cupcakes are really easy to make too, bar an impressive icing sugar explosion. The colour theme is supposed to be Frankensteinian with a rotting flesh green and silver metallic balls. The flavour was vanilla.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Window Candy

One of the things I like most about Paris is the window shopping, especially in old, quircky shops. This time, we explored the old shopping arcades around Palais Royal. I had avoided them before, thinking they would be touristy or glitzy, but they were beautiful and chicly shabby. Palais Royal is an arcaded square around a lovely garden, it abounds with unusual designer shops, vintage designer and things like pipe shops, glove shops and antiques places. Galerie Vivienne and Galerie Vero Dodat were both built in the 1820s and house more posh yet elegant shops. The pleasingly taxidermy like 'Puck Boot' was in Christian Louboutin in Galerie Vero Dodat. The shoes were works of art (and priced accordingly) and displayed accordingly too, under a Victorian glass dome.

Sunday, 9 October 2011


A slight cheat here, as this is an old pic I found the other day. It's a pirate from the 7th Sea roleplaying game of many years ago. I love all things piratical from films (Pirates of the Caribbean, The Crimson Pirate, The Pirate (a musical, bizzarely)) to pirate style New Romantic fashion. I've also just finished re-reading Treasure Island, which to my surprise was still really exciting. I'd love any more recommendations of books or films of a swashbuckling nature....

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Secret Salad

I wandered the gardens of Leith Hall the other day (do visit, they are gorgeous) looking for gardeners. I found them in the walled veg garden where they offered me Green Windsor broad beans (wonderfully Edwardian name) and lettuces straight from the ground. One was Lollo Rosso, which you often see in supermarkets, but I don't know what this tasty one was. It's about a foot long with crunchy stems. Today an appeal to lettuce experts....

Saturday, 24 September 2011

In the Evening

I need some expert bag enthusaist help here..... This is a wonderfully elegant evening bag I found in a charity shop on Rosemount Place Aberdeen. (A lovely area full of quirky shops which I was exploring with two friends today. And you hardly ever find good vintage in charity shops any more. This bag was obviously a refugee from a vintage shop, bearing a tag 'Vintage £30'. But not for £30, but £6 so I snapped it up. Anyway, I think it might be 1930s, but I'm not sure. It is lined in silver watered fabric and has a small mirror in a pocket. Please help me out, bag experts!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Magnetic Personality

I like interesting fridge magnets. Featured here (spot them) Napoleon at the Ashmolean, Miffi, a 50s bad girl, a lady of the Court of Versailles, The World's Largest Woman and Shakespeare. Also The Solar System (possibly in the wrong order?) An L Plate from our HenStag Do, In Praise of Gin and Tonic and Archives from the British Library.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Doors Open Day

This is a rather gloomily Dickensian pend or alley just off Peacock Close in Aberdeen. I like the word pend also. Our whole day was rather Gothic actually, with a visit to St Nicholas Church, half of which is a huge pit of Piranesian ladders and trenches inside the church, from which came over 600 skeletons dating back over 900 years. The church also offers a scary ascent into a crumbling tower where a lady sat playing the bells from a Quasimodo-esque wooden instrument and a maze of box pews, amidst which I found a pair of abandoned shoes. Creepy. To lift the mood (!) we went on to the Masonic Temple which featured a Hammer horror style circular occult dungeon with altar and an amazing hall floor patterned with signs of the zodiac. The morning was a little jollier with visits to some lovely churches staffed by nutty elderly ladies armed with tea and biscuits and a printing demonstration at Peacock Visual Arts. Which is just off this doomful courtyard.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Bread for Autumn

I love autumn. I like hearty food, woolly jumpers, cosy boots and colourful leaves. The baking urge came over me today and luckily coincided with a lot of things near their sell-bys needing to be used up. Hence the sun dried tomato and thyme fougasse from Baking Made Easy (a lovely baking book, recommended). Just for interest dead items from the fridge I also sorted included stones in olives, mint sauce and pickled walnuts (?) What CAN you do with pickled walnuts???

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Edwardian Books

Cheating a bit this week with other people's art instead of my own, sorry. I'm working on Sunday. Picked up two 1900s books at a charity sale: Rubaiyat of Omar Khayam ( a poem I really love) illustrated by Hungarian artist Willy Pogany and with lovely Art Nouveau graphics and little Scottish Clans and Tartans book with fun period advertisements in it. I love old adverts, they really bring the past to life for me. Here are some pics...Didn't subject Pogany book to being squished in scanner as it didn't open flat really. Don't break the spines people. Don't you love the Edwardian Lady's Scottish outfit? So natty.

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Red Stuff

Not one for the squeamish as I discover the joys of carving. I could already dissect a roast chicken, but the lamb rack looked quite daunting. A bit of wiggling with a very large sharp knife, however, and it became yummy cutlets, result! Strangely satisfying. My meat board is red to distinguish it from my veg board (which should be green but, disappointingly, is white).

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Unexpectedly Appealing

Sometimes the most unattractive things and places have a beauty of their own. These are old lock-up garages, incongruously sited in a small park in Aberdeen. I always wonder what is in these neglected garages...ancient rotting cars, perhaps, rusting machinery, vintage furniture or things far more sinister...

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Dress of the Future

The future is now! In Muji (one of my fave shops; always full of interesting things) I found this. A dress, vacuum packed into a tennis ball sized cube. It unpacks to form a comfy nautical striped number. Genius.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Make it retro

I like knitting, but my projects have to be small and involve interesting wool or weird textures, preferably in chunky yarns. I have a short attention span. This is a 70s style nubbly cushion cover from that fine knitting book Stitch and Bitch Nation. Turqoise is one of my favourite colours. I'm planning to cuddle up to this cushion in the long Aberdonian winters.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Bohemian like You

As my regular Stylish Person feature; my colleague who uses a basket as a handbag, dresses like a fairytale character and has the most fabulous Pre-Raphaelite hair. You always look amazing and I salute you!

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Holding Pattern

Yet again, I am very busy and so this is a 'holding pattern' picture until I have painted some more. It is my kitchen windowsill with a collection of malformed herbs I keep trying to grow even though I am in Aberdeen. This weekend I was staffing my work's Jousting Tournament (counting visitors, not riding horses, sadly.) Next weekend I am off to London but hope to do some lovely art soon. Please bear with me.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Normal Service will be Resumed Shortly

Apologies, there will be no History Walk today, due to excessive consumption of Birthday Cocktails last night. However, this week I plan to have History Walk from my Dumfriesshire this space.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Albyn Place

Today's walk encompassed Albyn Place, an area I know well as my other half works there. It is a lovely, Regency feeling area of Aberdeen full of classical villas. This is my favourite, No26, designed by Archibald Simpson and dating from 1830. I have missed off the later rooflights to enjoy the proper appearance.
Albyn Place was built on the lands of Rubislaw, belonging to James Skene. He lived in Albyn Place in Edinburgh (hence the same name in Aberdeen), and based the neighbourhood on the New Town of Edinburgh. Interesting buildings and things to look for include Harlaw Academy (formerly Mrs Emslie's Institution for desitute and orphaned girls), The College Bar (formerly Christ's College training institute for Free Church clergymen) and St John's Well (associated with the Knights of St John of Jerusalem and formerly in the Hardgate). There is also a lovely small park with a huge old tree in it.

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Holburn and Hardgate

Today's walk looped up Hardgate to the small roundabout and down Holburn Street to Riverside Terrace. It is a fun walk as Holburn Street is obviously the successor to the earler Hardgate, both the important roads travelling into Aberdeen from the south over Bridge of Dee. In 1866 these parts were dotted with small cottages and inns for the travellers. Some of the cottages remain, sadly (but presumably conveniently) altered with porches and dormer windows. The one I illustrate here, however (unnamed on map, but just south of the Spar) is very atmospheric and pretty. The right side is modernised so I faded it off tactfully. Other surviving buildings include Ruthrieston House (a plain block) Balgair Cottage and the Abergeldie Inn as well as the lovely old house by the roundabout next to the cake shop. This house has a fascinating window display of model aircraft made by the owner.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Walking Victorian Aberdeen

On impulse, a few weeks ago, I bought a copy of an 1866 map of Aberdeen. Pondering it, I decided to begin a series of walks to re-trace the roads of that time and see what buildings and features survived. I started today, with the stretch of land south of the railway (now disused but marked on my map) from Bridge of Dee to the railway bridge. Much of the grounds of the grand mansions has survived in the shape of Duthie Park and Allenvale Cemetery (both late C19th.) The only significant building which has survived, sadly, is Outseats House of 1800 which illustrates this post. It was a very interesting walk, accompanied by Alistair, the map, a highlighter pen ( to mark survivors) and a light rain. I spotted many interesting buildings and landscape features which I had not previously noticed.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Pipe down!

Please excuse the bodgyness of this picture, caused by extreme jet-lag. This is the public art outside our hotel in Vancouver, with the obligatory very cool Japanese girl posed next to it. Vancouver throngs with these girls, apparently half the population is Japanese, Chinese or Korean. They dress in a really interesting way, lots of bright colours and abstract shapes. The sculpture looks a bit like underground pipes bursting out.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Ultimate Tea

This pic is from a new watercolour pad, hence the textured look. Also using my Cotman travel watercolour set which is a purist one with no body colour provided (black or white paints).

Ultimate tea with Japanese cast iron teapot and hourglass tea timer set to four minutes, from awesome Vancouver restaurant CinCin.

Friday, 27 May 2011

Whale Mobile

I really love whales. The mobile joins my silkscreen pic of whales in the bathroom. (Pic is in bathroom, not whales). This is from the very cool Danish mobile making company Flensted and I bought it off Amazon. Mobiles are very relaxing.

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Avengers style

My latest vintage find, from Cancer Research on Rosemount, Aberdeen. They have an awesome vintage rail and a cabinet for ornaments, books etc. The dress is probably from the early 60s and in a rather alarming (but easy care) fabric, possibly Dacron. I love stuff from this period which reminds me of some of my greatest style icons; Emma Peel from the Avengers and Audrey Hepburn.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


As I don't have a garden, I go to a park once a wek for a nature fix. One of my favourites is Johnston Gardens. There is a large pond where we found these weirdly cute moorhen chicks. The huge feet, the tiny wings! We also found an armoured car in the neighbouring gardens of the Gordon Highlanders Museum. Less cute, but an equally pleasing surprise.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Afternoon Tea

My friends Elaine and Helen introduced me to the pinnacle of civilisation that is afternoon tea! I've wanted to go to a posh afternoon tea for ages. Here are finger sandwiches (no, not made with fingers in which would be yuck) with smoked salmon, cucumber, ham and egg. Fruit and plain scones with jam and clotted cream. Cream, lemon drizzle, pistachio and chocolate cake and mini fruit tarts. Champagne was available but sadly we were driving.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Britannia ruled the waves

I saw this lady and her fabulous hat walking up Union Street yesterday. Presumably a Royal wedding enthusiast with a nautical bent. In the C18th sailing ships were often posed atop an outrageous Marie Antionette style wig, here going with a more modern do.

I have also bought a travel watercolour set so hopefully some posts from out and about soon!

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Princess of the Pagodas

I saw this wonderful oriental umbrella from the bus yesterday. Weirdly exotic with the hot humid rain that was falling.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

The search for bread

My search for a bakers that does really nice bread is over! I found The Breadmaker on Rosemount, Aberdeen. We had the oaty bread (pictured) and the blue cheese and walnut. Both yummy. Sadly, the croissants, which looked great, were more like rowies/butteries. Maybe only the French make great croissants. A lovely shop and I am anxious to try the cafe there also.

Sunday, 10 April 2011

A vegetarian venture

With apologies to Alistair (who doesn't like tomatoes At All), a van-dycked tomato stuffed with herby breadcrumbs from Vegetarian Cooking 1976. I uplifted this fine volume from my dad's house looking for interesting salad recipes. It actually has many appealing food ideas, such as little loaves shaped in flower pots (cute) and presages many foods not common at the time such as blueberry muffins and avocado pate (guacamole). I'm really looking forward to cooking from it!

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Ponchos in the rain

(With apologies to Bruce and Martin who know about bikes for my poor understanding of cycle construction.) Pink ponchos a go go in the torrential rain we enjoyed last week. I always like the idea of cycling, wind in the hair and all that. I'm not a good cyclist, so I'd have to go with an old style girl bike with basket. In fact my last cycling experience involved a steep hill, an Edwardian outfit and the sudden appearance of the ground near my face. The one before (many years ago)involved a steep hill, an inability to locate the brake handle and a thick hedgerow. That's why I don't own a bike now.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Bring on Spring

I need Spring! I need leaves on the trees! But at least I have the lovely flowers on my amaryllis bulb (pictured). Also I bought tulips, which I love most of the spring flowers. And my venus flytrap is returning to life.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Love the Liverbird.

Picture shows Liver bird on Liverpool's fabulous Liver Building. Among many awesome Edwardian/Deco buildings in the city. Also recommended: Pre-Raphaelites in Walker Art Gallery, Duckmarine amphibious tours, cocktails in Malmaison Hotel, 'Paddy's Wigwam' cathedral and Pop Boutique vintage. A great place to visit!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Pink Lady

No, not like in Grease! Another in my series of interestingly dressed people. This lady sported a pink sheepskin coat, brown angora hat and little ankle boots. Her hair was a bright dyed red, set in roller-y curls.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Super Sushi

I went to Yo Sushi! and discovered I really, really like sushi. I like it with lots of ginger and wasabi (ooch). It can join the ranks of my many other fave nibbly foods (mezze, cheeseboard, mexican dips etc). I'm not sure if it's because I'm indecisive but I like to have a lot of different foods on the table.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Girls in Soul

This is where I come across as a grumpy old lady! My two grumps being; Soul, a bar converted from an old church and The Way Young People Dress These Days. While it is good to find new uses for unused buildings, part of me feels uncomfortable to see these barely clad girls tottering past the stained glass windows towards a giant bar. I am an atheist, but somehow it still feels wrong. Also, how do they walk in these high, high shoes?

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Seventies Star!

This is one of my oldest soft toys. Known as Mrs Mouse, she is a groovy 70s mouse in bright geometric patterns. I also inherited a cuddly dog in almost the same pattern, could they be from the same shop? Are these fab toys still available? Does anyone else have any like these?

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Looking out a dirty old window

Anyone who follows me on facebook may have come across my cryptic references to Window Puddy. I watch WP from my kitchen window, and he watches birds, cars and the comings and goings in my street. He keeps very regular hours, but sometimes varies the window he views from.

Anyway, here he is.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Reading the Eighteenth Century

After watching a fantastic BBC4 programme about the history of the novel, I vowed to read a novel from the C18th. I have read Clarissa (short version, original is eight volumes!) Hill (yes, it's C18th porn), The Castle of Otranto (pioneering gothic novel) and planned to read Tom Jones or Tristram Shandy. However, I was daunted by the giant size of both and instead bought Evelina by Frances Burney. It's a rom-com by an author who was greatly admired by Jane Austen.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

The One that got away

I admit it, I'm a bit of an ebay nut. I like nothing better than trawling for vintage clothes and accessories, old books and random knicknackery. Sometimes, however the cut and thrust auctioneering world is a little harsh. This is the one that got away; a lovely 1950s evening dress. No, I didn't 'need' it and it sold for £72 but part of me still laments it. Anyway, here is a fond mind image of me drifting elegantly around in it.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

New new blog

As I lay in bed this morning, pondering the unexcitingness that is my blog, my better half had a fantastic idea....why not illustrate it myself? So I whipped out my old watercolour paintbox (which I've had since I was about 10) and daubed an illustration to the last entry I made. Here it is. From now on, readers will have the dubious pleasure of illustrations by me, hopefully on a weekly basis.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Anonymous Style Icons

I was walking through the town centre today and was fascinated to spot a lady who I often see around. She was wearing (as always) a fabulous outfit of vintage ginger long fur coat, leopard print booties and had a huge and intricate beehive hairdo. I was consumed with curiosity, who is she? Sometimes you see interestingly dressed people and want to know who they are, or is that just me? When I used to spend a lot of time in the Aberdeen Reference Library I used to see a dashing man in all over tartan/punk wear. Likewise, while waiting in Dundee Law Library, I was secretly always watching for a girl with neon pink hair and a black rubber backpack with spikes. She made me want to have pink hair, but I never dared. And on a different note, when I was in Orchar Park in Broughty Ferry, very near where I used to live, I sometimes used to see a girl who looked Just Like Me which was a rather disturbing experience.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Passion for Polishes

Ever since I was about 14 I have had an obsession with nail varnish. I remember standing on the hockey field as a total geek in school and yet having bright fuschia pink nails. Made me feel better. I like nail polish cos its more like a clothing thing; you can wear any colour. These days my brand of choice is Opi which I buy in John Lewis. They do new themed 'collections' every season and the names are terrible puns which amuse me. They also do unusual textures like matte, suede and a crazed effect but i haven't tried those yet. Their website:

They do lots of weird and wonderful colours, my latest buy being the (apparently hugely trendy) 'You don't know Jacques'. It's sort of grey brown which I thought would go with whatever I am wearing. It's pictured at the top of the blog. I have lots of other strange colours too, mainly for toenails, turqoise, navy, blue, gold, and lots of bright glamourous red. As I have quite a manual job I usually wear neutral pink/beige type colours on my fingers unless it is for a special occasion.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Sweetmaking Projects

One of my 2011 projects is sweetmaking. For my friend Sarah's gallery opening I made candied peel. It takes a bit of a mental leap to eat peel, but it's pretty tasty. You must use organic stuff though or you'll just be eating tons of wax and chemicals ugh. The picture shows the peel in one of four boiling stages (three in water, one in syrup). The black thing is a vanilla pod. The peel smells lovely when it is cooking. It is then dusted in sugar and dipped in chocolate. Today's project is buttered brazils, where the nuts are coated in toffee. This is a techy step forward involving the use of my exciting new sugar thermometer....and I will report back.